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The Bastard's guide to airport security

PFY plays guinea pig

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 44

Ah, the strange twists of fate which conspire both for and against us.

Against us when I believed that my trusty co-worker would treat me with the respect I deserved from my years at the coal face of IT and cut me a little slack when it came to me stealing his Christmas presents. And locking me in a lift. And for us when The Boss, supposedly the victim of a convoluted photoshop inspired blackmail scheme, instead calls lift maintenance because he doesn't want to carry his presents down three flights of stairs.

And so it is that I am free from my elevatory prison...

... and seeking revenge.

First stop, Mission Control - but The PFY has long gone. Second stop, the secretary's desk because it's more than apparent that the PFY and Cathy are acting in collusion - but she too has departed hastily. A brief ferret around her desk reveals nothing however a couple of moments thought (plus those hours trapped in a lift) have given me a plan...

I dash off a quick email to Cathy, ostensibly ordering a batch of new paper-clips or something, and quick as a flash her out-of-office message pops back to say that she's off to Spain for a week and won't be contactable over the break. I shove a Knoppix disk into The PFY's machine and peruse the contents of his hard drive until I hit paydirt in his webcache. A set of transactions with an online travel agency. Interesting..

A further disk scrape or two reveals a deleted PDF file containing the e-ticket receipt and flight information including departure time - and joy of joys - it's not going to depart for another couple of hours!

While the PFY and Cathy no doubt spend a couple of hours sampling the fare of a Heathrow drinking establishment I work a little magic on the airline's telephony server... It is criminal how little care and attention is paid to proper security on these machines. A quick rummage through the information therein gives me a couple of suitable names, numbers and locations. A few quick modifications later and I'm on the tube rattling my way to Heathrow...

I get there about 10 minutes after the plane's departed, which suits me just fine. It's a timing game this - too soon and they'd never get on the plane and too late and it'll never work. I search for the public phone I'm after and bash out the first number I'm after, departure control..

“Hello?”

“Hi Jim in baggage handling. We've got a burst case here and I need to know if the flight's gone?”

“Which flight?” I'm asked without further query - given that the guy's phone caller-ID tells him I'm ringing from baggage handling.

I blurt out The PFY's flight number, only to be told that the flight has just left.

“We can let the owner know when he gets in. jJst tell me the barcode number,” Control says, helpfully.

"I can't," I sigh. "The bag got caught in a conveyor mechanism and it's been pulled to bits. There's part of his luggage label though, so I can give you the guy's name?"

"Sure, that'll do."

I rattle off the PFY's name before going off onto a tangent about the unreliability of the model C17-A conveyor system and how they never should have replaced the Bristol 12s which were so reliable they actually used them in the first Gulf War to aid in the loading of munitions, etc., etc., etc., until the guy cuts me off.

"Okay, I'll send a note through to the other side letting them know and they'll tell the passenger when he arrives. Can you bag up the contents and send them on?"

"Well that's the thing," I say, getting into the whole 'Jim' role. "I can package up most of it in a 3T4 bag, although they're not as robust as the 3F4s but their cost per unit's about twice that of the 3T4, but we're not allowed to package drugs in transparent packaging..."

"Drugs?!" the guy snaps.

"Yeah, flu medication."

"Oh," the guy says, almost sounding disappointed.

"Yeah, it's just those anticongestant tablets - the ones they make poor-man's-Speed out of. There must be 10 cartons of them."

"TEN CARTONS!" he gasps.

"Yeah, and condoms, lots of condoms. Although it looks like he's used about three packs of them, the lucky bastard!"

Before Jim can tangent off onto the subject of the Spanish package holiday him and the little woman had back in '74, I'm put on hold while the guy has a quick chat on the other line to someone from HM Customs...

"Okay, that's all sorted, they're going to contact Spanish Customs, but they want you to get the bag up here, ASAP."

"You've got to be joking!" I gasp. "We're two men down and one of the C17-A's is on the fritz. I've rung a couple of the on call guys and I can probably get one of them to drop it off to you in about an hour or so..." I say.

";Hang on... Yeah, they say that'll be OK -they'll hold the guy at the other end...";

"Right then!" Jim says, and I hang up and wander back to the Tube entrance.

Looks like the PFY will be getting a little more sex than he bargained on this trip... ®

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