Tired sysadmin plugged cable into wrong port, unleashed a 'virus'

And then his colleagues pulled an all-nighter failing to fix it

Ethernet cable rises up like a snake (artist's impression). Image via shutterstock

Who, me? Welcome once more to “Who, me?”, in which Reg readers ‘fess up to messes they made in the pursuit of IT excellence.

This week meet “Iqbal” who told us about a Week from Hell he experienced in the year 2010, when working for a law firm.

First came “a virus outbreak that infected Windows desktops” that required him to travel from his home in the UK’s midlands to London. With that job behind him, Iqbal was “sent to the Manchester office to sort out a dodgy Windows update that had caused desktops to bluescreen every time they tried to print to Lexmark hardware.”

Cue more trains and travel and rushing.

Iqbal was then summoned back to London for a weekend roll-out of new Word templates. That job kept him busy until Sunday afternoon, at which point Iqbal was “desperate to get home for the evening before travelling back to London on Monday morning.”

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His colleagues were happy to let him escape, but Iqbal is a very diligent chap and “decided on one last job.”

“I would return the hub I'd pinched off my colleague’s desk, as everyone hates coming in to work to find their desk configuration has been tampered with. So I raced downstairs, plugged the hub and associated network leads back in as fast as I could, before rushing off for my train.”

But not long after Iqbal sank into his seat, his phone rang.

“We think the virus is back," his colleagues reported, explaining that local network switches were being flooded by traffic in very similar patterns to the virus Iqbal squashed earlier in the week. Iqbal’s colleagues recognised that he’d already bled for them in the previous week, so promised to fix it and let him go home.

When Iqbal strode back into the office on Monday morning he found “colleagues had been up all night trying to isolate the source of the traffic. One of them was holding up a hub that looked rather familiar.”

Which was when Iqbal spotted the problem. “In my haste to depart, I'd ‘looped’ one of the network cables, plugging both ends into the hub (with another cable plugged into the desk port), causing a loopback traffic storm.”

“I immediately confessed and was given a relatively easy time, although I'm still called ‘Hub Boy" by certain colleagues eight years later. Which is fair enough.”

What mistakes have you made when fatigued? Click here to write to Who, Me? with your story and it might pop up here on a future Monday. ®




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