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An undocumented bonus

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 26

"BUT I DILIGENTLY BACKED MY FILES UP!" the user wails.

"TWO YEARS AGO!" I respond, not feeling the slightest bit of sympathy for my caller.

"It's still a backup!"

"No, what you wanted was an archive, not a backup."

"But the system let me backup the files and didn't warn me not to!"

"The system would also let you send your picture and contact details to a rough trade gay contact mailing list saying you like to be surprised with power tools in a non-consensual role play scenario – but that doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.!

"I'm hardly likely to do that," he snaps.

>clickety< >clickety<

"I suppose not, but you can't blame the system for you not selecting the ARCHIVE option"

"How's a Backup different from an Archive?"

"A Backup is when we keep a file for six months because our users might need it, and an Archive is when we keep a copy indefinitely because our user is a prat."

"I beg your pardon?"

"And a pardon freely given," I respond benevolently.

"Are you aware of who you're talking to?"

"Strangely enough, no. The phone line detail database got corrupted a few nights ago and I've not got round to recovering it from the Archive."

"I thought you said you only used archives if the user is, as you say, a prat?" he chips in snidely.

"All our users are prats. So we use an archive!!!"

A click resounds in my ear with no further bluster, which smells distinctly like trouble brewing to me. Brewing like the six-day-old pot of coffee in the roadside cafe of the highway to hell, I'm guessing. And, based on the tone of the conversation, the coffee grinds in question are probably brewed by someone on the 4th floor, and judging by their command of the English language, a board member.

Bugger.

That's the problem with caller-id technology – you become dependent on it, then it lets you down. While searching the online phonebook for the owner of the number, I give the PFY a quick briefing on events so he's prepared for when the excreta encounters the cooling device - ie. the Boss gets involved.

And just in the nick of time as the Boss, looking slightly puffed, stumbles into the office at what passes for high speed.

"Who was just on the phone to the company auditor?" the demands angrily – answering my unasked question about the sort of person who leaves six months between backups.

"That would be me," I cry.

"YOU CALLED THE COMPANY AUDITOR A PRAT!?" he shouts.

"Not at all!" I gasp defensively.

"Oh."

"I called anyone who doesn't backup their files within six months a prat. No offence."

"Are you TRYING to get me fired!?" the boss snaps.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't thought about it. I don't think so. Though that would be a bit of an undocumented bonus.

"Bet ya ten quid you can do it!" the PFY chirps.

"Done!"

"Sorry, you're having a wager about me getting fired?"

"Yep!" the PFY replies.

"For 10 quid."

"Uh-huh."

"You'd seriously try and get me fired, just to earn 10 quid?"

"I'd do it for five," the PFY adds.

"It's not the amount, it's the challenge," I add.

"I...It'll never happen. In any case, you can't talk to users like that!"

"Well technically, he already did - which proves it IS possible," the PFY adds helpfully.

"RIGHT!" the boss shouts, about-turning, and storming out.

"Looks like YOU'RE for the high jump!" the PFY murmurs, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

"Yeesss," I concur. "There's only one thing for it then..."

"PUB TRIP!" we both cry in unison, great minds thinking alike.

As it IS my unofficial leaving do, I stop at a few ports of call on the way out to notify some friends and useful contacts of my impending departure. Stopping briefly at security, cleaning and stores, I collect three more people for the Trip a la Pub.

...two hours later...

"So you haven't ACTUALLY been fired then?" George, my cleaner acquaintance asks.

"Not as such, but it looks imminent."

"And that robot isn't going to go ballistic again?" one of George's offsiders asks, remembering all too well the mess the last time caused.

"No, I decommissioned it with a Gas Axe and a hammer months ago. But...I...don't know what to say," I blurt, while the PFY gets another round in at the Bar. "I feel like some sort of speech is required.."

"Do that one about 'Ask not what you company can do to you but what you can do to your company'," George suggests.

"And exactly what can you do to your company?" the Boss asks, appearing from nowhere.

"I...don't think any of that will be necessary," the PFY interrupts, returning from the bar. "I've just been watching the news."

"And?" the Boss asks.

"Uh...apparently someone attacked the company auditor outside the building when he left for lunch - with a battery drill."

"Oh dear," I gasp, trying to avoid the mental picture. "I thought that list was a joke."

"So we'll be rushing back to the company to get back to work?" the PFY suggests.

"If by 'work' you mean zapping our mail logs with a nine-pass erase algorithm, changing the IP addresses of our mail gateways and removing any history of phone calls, then yes." "I think you're forgetting that more people involved in this than just the company auditor," the Boss chips in.

"You mean you sent email to that mailing list too?" the PFY gasps.

"No."

"And you're sure of that, given that there's 15 quid riding on this?" the PFY asks fingering his wireless PDA.

...

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