Saturday, January 29, 2005
Here's a link to a story that makes me think. Short version: Step 1) Some Guy uses a non-mainstream browser to try and donate to a tsunami relief fund website run by BT (British Telecom). Step 2) Moronic Sysadmin mis-reads the access logs and decides it is a hacking attempt. Step 3) M. Sysadmin denies access to S. Guy, and reports the "attempted hacking" to the police. Step 4) Almost a month later, police bust in (SWAT style according to some sources) and arrest S. Guy! Observation 1) At least America isn't the only place in the world this could happen. That's not really a good thing, just a misery loves company type thing. Observation 2) Some might say the sysadmin was merely under-educated, or shouldn't be expected to know what such an ancient, text-only, browser like Lynx is. My responses follow: 1) He's getting paid for his technical knowledge, so I would expect familiarity with the logs. And, if he's worth his paycheck, I would demand better behavior in response to something he doesn't know. 2) Does he really call the police at every odd log entry? I mean seriously, boy crying wolf, not to mention technical inaptitude here. But, the reasons it makes me think have to do with a previous brush with Moronic Sysadmins. I was in high school, I had a friend majoring in CS at college. I visited him. At this college, the school's IT department and the CS division fought horribly, because the CS division believed (rightly) that IT was inept. Therefore, CS ran their own separate computer network, which ticked IT off greatly. Anyway, the wiring closet in this building was in the CS computer lab, across the hall from IT. One day, while I was visiting, IT left it unlocked. CS majors are more than just curious, they often actively seek out trouble. And knowing that the closet belonged to IT, I can guarantee somebody tried the knob at least once during every day. So, it was found to be unlocked. Someone got bored, and unplugged some cables. Fiber optic wires I believe, probably linking the rest of the campus to this building. IT eventually found out, and immediately decided that the door's lock must have been picked. (It couldn't have been left unlocked of course.) They then proceeded to pull the access log from the CS lab's door's electronic lock, since the event happened after normal hours, so someone with access had to have opened the lab. They also managed to read the logs wrong, decided the event happened about a day before (or after, I'm not sure) it actually did, and thus looked at the wrong time from the access logs, and tried to implicate the wrong student. In the end, CS found out what happened, and told IT, we know be we won't tell you, we will handle it internally. IT forever held a grudge against who they thought did it, and the feud continued. So, why can inept people get and keep jobs when there are plenty of genuinely good computer people out there without a job? (This isn't a personal rant, I've got a good job, and it isn't doing IT or CS type work.) Of course, this question broadens to almost any type of job. Where do PHBs (Pointy Haired Bosses, it's a Dilbert thing!) come from? Oh well, that's enough ranting and reminiscing outta me.