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Security for virtualized datacentres

Episode 16

"...and this is Simon and Steven. Simon, Steven, this is David, he's our new hardware technician," the new Boss says, entering Mission Control.

"New hardware technician? What about our old one?"

"I was under the impression we didn't have an old one."

"That's right," the PFY says defensively. "Because we didn't need one."

"It seems you do. I was looking through the write off statistics and it seems that our equipment has some of the worst expected lifetimes around. In some cases we write off equipment that's almost new."

"Plasma screens have only recently settled down stability wise," the PFY counters. "And the larger sized ones had the worst failure rate."

"Still, probably worth a warranty claim though," David chips in.

"Too late, it was disposed of," the PFY says before someone starts thinking about looking for it. At his place...connected to his DVD player...

...Five minutes later...

"I don't like it," the PFY says. "He's going to be a problem."

"Nah, he'll be fine," I say. "The boredom will get to him."

...The next day...

"Have you guys got an oscilloscope?" Dave asks, with the Boss closely in tow.

"What for?"

"Need to check the data lines of the IDE interface on that machine you're going to toast. We may not need to chuck it out as it may just be a faulty cable," he says.

...Two minutes later after Dave's departed with the scope...

"The bastard!" the PFY fumes. "It took ages to pull that connector to bits and break off some of the data pins. I was going to use that as a home cinema!"

"Yeah, he's good. Strange he didn't just swap the cable out though."

"Mmm," the PFY says thoughtfully. "So he's just showing off?"

"Bound to be..."

...Two further minutes later...

"Yeah, it's stuffed," Dave says, popping his head back into Mission control. "Must be a dud motherboard."

"Ah well," the PFY says. "Sling it in here, we'll dump it later."

"No need," Dave says. "I've got a contact who does sustainable recycling."

"Yeah, but we might be able to use some bits."

"Nah, they're all stuffed," Dave says.

"It's true," the Boss adds. "He checked them all with the ozziscope."

...

"THE BASTARD!" the PFY snaps.

"Oh, he IS good," I concur. "But lets see how good he is after a few midnight callouts..."

...

So it's 2am and Dave's just put a machine back into a rack after replacing a couple of failed hard drives that the PFY and I had fitted a couple of hours ago prior to tripping the SNMP alert.

"Odd losing two in one go like that," he says cheerfully. "Still, it happens from time to time though. So if that's all I'll let you guys get onto the data recovery."

"Thanks," I say, letting Dave out.

...Three hours later...

"Sorry for getting you back in again Dave, but it looks like another drive's failed," the PFY says, pointing to the machine.

...Ten minutes later...

"That's funny."

"What is?" the PFY says.

"This drive looks exactly the same as one of the ones I replaced earlier."

"They all look the exactly the same don't they?" the PFY says.

"No, see how this one has a gouge in the label just before the brand name - I think I did that when I pulled the old one out of the drive tray."

"You must have done it twice," the PFY proffers.

"I don't think so. Say, do you have the old drives, I'd like to take a look at them."

"Oh, sorry, I didn't realise you'd want them. I sent them off to a sustainable recycler," the PFY replies, with more than a little sarcasm in his voice.

...Later that day...

"...and then Dave replaced the third drive and we >yawn< recovered the data," I say, recounting the whole thing to the boss.

"Did you keep that drive then?" Dave asks. "Didn't send it off for recycling in the middle of the night?"

"No, we kept it in case you wanted to check it against the next faulty drive," the PFY snaps.

"Which will probably occur tonight," Dave chips. "Once around 2am and another at around...5?"

He IS good!

"No, I'm sure it'll be ok," the PFY says. "Besides, I'm so tired I'm unlikely to hear the pager."

"Yes, David mentioned you might be a little tired so I've had security give him access through your office to the Computer room 24x7."

"The bastard," I murmur before the PFY can say anything.

"Pardon?"

"Hmm?" I respond.

...

"So we need to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that nothing goes wrong tonight so as not to justify his access."

"Should I check all the machines and do a bit of preventative maintenance?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of disabling the fault reporting system," I say...

"ONTO IT!" the PFY snaps.

...

The next day dawns without incident - which I confirm when I run into the PFY while waiting for the lift.

"Not a tinkle - the pager was silent all night," he affirms as we enter Mission Control. "MY DESKTOP!" he gasps, seeing his monitor sitting on his chair.

"What did y... *MY* Desktop!" I cry. "And my laptop! And my reserve desktop and reserve laptop!"

"My laptop!" the PFY gasps, opening his second drawer to find an empty space.

A quick scan of the room tells the story that the trolley scuff marks in the carpet should have told us before we walked in.

"WE'VE BEEN RIPPED OFF!"

"And we know whose fault this is!" I say, turning and heading to the Boss' office...which is completely empty.

Completely. Not even a phone.

"They're good," I say, as the PFY looks under the Boss' desk for any evidence.

"There's a note," the PFY says pointing behind the door.

"It's to us!" I say slamming the door and ripping down the note, "It says 'Thanks for the memories, the kit and the plasma screen - Dave and John.'"

"Who's John - and what plasma screen?"

"John is the Boss and the only plasma screen they knew about is the one you've got at - "

"What?"

"You don't still keep a spare house key in your desk drawer do you?"

"Yes, but it's loc.. THE BASTARDS!!"

"Oh, they're good," I say, noticing the blanking plate where the door handle should be. "They're BLOODY good."

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