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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Episode 8

"I... uh..." the Boss says, wandering into Mission Control aimlessly, searching for the right words to bring up whatever's on his mind.

"Yes?" I ask, letting him off the hook.

"The lifts" he says cryptically..

"The lifts?" I repeat..

"The buttons on the lifts" he says.

"They have buttons - yes - well spotted," I say.

"They've got more buttons."

"More than?"

"The building has extra floors," he finally blurts. "Now there's buttons for floors 7 to 12."

"You mean the building gets bigger if you add buttons to the lift?!" the PFY says. "Like the buttons are actually an array of floor pointers?!?"

"Oooh yeah," I say, getting in on the act. "So you could push 8 and it does a new(floor)."

"And maybe you could do it so if you held the button down it does a destroy (floor ) then a new (floor)!"

"For the 4th floor," I say, wondering how the Beancounters would cope with sudden non-existence.

The Boss' blank expression indicates that this conversation is wasted on him.

"The lift control panels have apparently been recalled for saftey reasons," the PFY sighs. "The only spare panels they had in stock were for taller buildings."

Which is not entirely the truth. The truth was revealed a couple of days ago.

"Look what I scored!" the PFY says.

"Some... lift control panels?" I ask.

"Yeah, they're renovating the building down the street and I noticed these were going to be chucked out."

"They were in the bin?"

"Not exactly."

"In a wheelbarrow destined for the bin?"

"No."

"On the floor outside the lifts?"

"Ah..."

"In the lift, with the power connected, in the building which isn't being renovated?"

"Well, yes. But I was thinking, we could swap these with our panels and then use the extra buttons for special controls."

"Special controls like?"

"Well, you press the 8th floor button, it delivers you to the ground floor and sends a text message to the Indian down the street to order two chicken vindaloos, some chilli bhajis, a couple of garlic naans and four Kingfishers."

"But wouldn't that mean that they'd be inundated with orders every time idiot tested the button?"

"You'd think so, but then it would only be active outside of work hours."

"After 4pm, except on Fridays, when it's on after 12pm."

"Yes, well, I might need to think about that one a little."

"So we'd just use the lift control panel as a form of ordering system?"

"Not necessarily. Press floor 9 and it'll take you to whatever floor the hottest woman in the building is on."

"Really?"

"Of course not. It doesn't do that - but it could do if you thought it was a good idea."

"And Floor 10?"

"The floor 10 button would take you up and down in the lift randomly for 15 minutes - without opening the doors or stopping at floors. At variable speeds."

"11?"

"The same as 9, but for 30 minutes."

"And don't tell me, 12 is for an hour. So if you pressed 12 and 9 it would be one hour, 15 minutes of lift joyriding?"

"No, 12 will gas you with a vapourised version of rohypnol before taking you to Basement 1 - where the creepy Courier Guy parks his van. You know, the one with the tinted windows. I like the binary addition of button travel times idea though."

"Gassing them and dropping them off in the basement's a little cruel don't you think?"

"No, cruel's dropping the ceiling tile with 'all you can eat' written on the back of it onto the lift floor."

"Ah, yes, Rule 2, the double tap... You've given this a lot of thought haven't you?"

"It passes the time between pub visits," the PFY nods.

"And it only works when it's enabled?"

"When it's enabled or when you press the floor number with the DOOR OPEN button held down. I thought we could use it like a shift key - that way all the other buttons could do something special too."

...

"Well, I gave them a call and get the lifts fixed properly as I was stuck in there for quarter of an hour this morning," the Boss says. "But they say they don't know anything about the panels."

"Really? Must be a different crew. Did you speak to anyone else about this?"

Crap Segue Tip: If anyone, anytime - even if you're not in a movie - says "did you speak to anyone else about this?" say 'yes'.

"No, not yet."

... half an hour later...

"Has anyone seen Jerry?" the IT Director asks, looking around for the Boss.

"Haven't seen him all day," the PFY responds.

Crap Segue followup: Told you so.

"Oh. Only there's a couple of people at reception who've got a meeting scheduled with him. Some chaps who do cloud computing - whatever that is. Sounds like something we should be looking into though."

"You know, I think I saw him on the 7th floor." the PFY says.

"Does this building have a 7th floor?"

"Yes, it's just some sort of optical illusion that makes the building seem smaller."

"OK, I'll send them up there then."

"No, you need to have a company swipe card to get access."

"OK I'll take them up."

"Good idea," the PFY says.

. . .

"7th floor?" I ask as soon as the Boss leaves.

"Same as 12 but it also sends a text message to the courier to say his packages are ready and bring the big van..."

"It's still... I dunno... a little cruel," I say.

"What about if I text him and tell him if he's not on 7 he'll be on 8?"

"And we'll pop down for a quick ruby? OK then, you talked me into it..."

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