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BOFH: The new geek on the block

Defending the sanctity of the computer room

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Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Episode 10

>Swipe< >bip< >bip< >bip< >bip< >BEEP-BEEP-BEEEEEP!<

>Swipe< >bip< >bip< >bip< >bip< >BEEP-BEEP-BEEEEEP!<

>Swipe< >bip< ... >bip< ... >bip< .... >bip< >BEEP-BEEP-BEEEEEP!<

"There's something wrong with the door," the Boss announces.

"Which door?" the PFY asks, apparently oblivious to the fact that the Boss is standing outside the entrance to the computer room.

"THIS door."

"What's the matter with it?"

"Cards don't work on it."

"Really?" the PFY says, wandering over. >SWIPE< >bip< >bip< >bip< >bip< >Clack!< >SLAM!< "No, seems to be fine..."

"It doesn't work with my card!"

"Ah, so it's more of a card problem than a door one. It's probably just that you're not permitted access to the computer room."

"Ridiculous! Why wouldn't I have access to the computer room?"

"Let's rephrase that as why WOULD you have access to the computer room?" I ask, weighing into the conversation. "Given that your IT 'expertise' is about 15 years old and involved changing PABX batteries?"

"I..." the Boss says, realising that at least ONE person at the company can read between the lines of his CV.

"And so you see there really isn't any real reason why you would need to have access..." the PFY adds.

"Well I would LIKE access anyway!"

"And I would like unbreakable Oracle, but you have to pick your battles..."

"I'll just get security to do it!"

"The inline filter in the door control circuit that rejects certain updates..."

"Why would you put a filter in?!"

"Because we've had issues with people doing inappropriate things in the computer room."

"What do you mean?"

"Running, eating, drinking," the PFY says reading from the 'unacceptable activities' list."

"I'm hardly likely to do any of those things."

"Not with no access."

"I...This isn't finished!" he snaps storming out.

Three days later the Boss attacks on a new front by rolling on up accompanied by a weedy bloke struggling under the weight of a 1U rack-mount server.

"We need to install this," the Boss says.

"?"

"It's your portal appliance," the weedy guy responds.

"A portal appliance?"

"A dedicated server which will act as the gateway to all your internal and external processing."

"Oh, you mean like a single point of failure!" the PFY gasps.

"No, this is state-of-the-art - a fault free turnkey solution."

"Fair enough, hand it over then," the PFY assents.

"No, I need to install it," the geek says, looking to the Boss for affirmation.

"But it's a turnkey device," the PFY argues.

"It might have some startup problems the first time."

"You said it was fault free!"

"Initial configuration options?" the geek suggests.

"Tell you what, do them here and we'll install it later."

...10 minutes later...

"So I'll just..."

"...hand it over and we'll install it."

"I'll need access to the console if it fails!"

"AND it's a critical portal application so he's going to need to have access at all hours - DAY AND NIGHT in case something happens when you're not around," the Boss adds.

"And I'll need a pager," the geek adds. "Connected to your monitoring software."

"Because?"

"It...might have a hardware problem...as yet undiagnosed."

Eventually I am talked around to giving the geek access to the server room, much to the PFY's disgust.

"It was just a cover story so he can let the Boss into the machine room."

"Of course it was," I concur.

"And he's not going to be able to do anything even if it does go down, just power the thing up again."

"Uh-huh."

"And if it does go down it's going to take user visibility to our systems with it."

"Indeed."

"It'll be a critical outage!"

"Uh-huh."

"And someone's going to have to respond."

"Yes, you're right. And who will that person be?"

"Not me."

"Or me. No, it looks like every outage will be dealt with by our geeky new acquaintance."

"Who could be in and out of the room all the time. And you're not worried?"

"Nah, he'll crack first," I say. >CLACK!< "Oh dear - it looks like the circuit breaker to the portal machine has tripped," I add, closing the switchboard door.

One higher rated breaker later...

>wiggle< >clunk< ... >wiggle< >clunk< "Oh dear - it looks like the power cables have vibrated loose from the portal machine!" I gasp.

Two cable ties later...

"And your next plan is?" the PFY asks.

"A simple combination of the effects of the lunchtime curry and repeated Pings-of-Death."

"Pings-of-Death? Nothing's susceptible to that any more!"

"Nessus says yes," I say. >tappity<

...Twenty Ping-of-Deaths, pages and geek visits later...

"We'll have to turn it off," the geek whimpers. "I can't keep coming in to reset it every minute or so."

"We can't turn it off!" the PFY responds. "It's the gateway to all our internal and external processing and we're starting end-of-financial-year processing!!!"

"But I can't keep coming in!" the geek whines. "I need to go to..."

>beep< >beep< >beep<

...

With the number of outages the head of IT was pretty much obliged to take a look at the situation for himself sooner or later - it was just coincidence that the PFY rang him to visit the exact moment that the effects of the curry, cold environment, and bowel pressure had the geek dispatching his lunchtime curry into a cardboard box within reach of the portal server's reset button.

Suffice to say there's a new entry in the unacceptable activities list and the inline filter is no longer necessary...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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