As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but April Fool’s is over, and you still deserve a few laughs… For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.
It’s about 9:30 in the morning when I roll into the office (so sue me, the sun woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep), when to my shock and horror I see the department’s two morbidly obese systems administrators (I’ll call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) leaning on our lab table.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I lie, oozing charm. “What seems to be the cataclysmic event which has caused you two troglodytes to risk exposure to the dreaded day star?” Oh well, no charm after all. Drat.
“Very funny,” snorts Tweedle Dee. His cheese-it devouring PLP continues, “You know why we’re here.”
“No, I don’t,” I respond, because I honestly have no idea whatsoever.
“Yes you do,” responds Tweedle Dee, tapping his softball bat against his empty palm. When the last time he could run to first base without having a coronary was, I don’t know. But I don’t like the mafioso-style intimidation.
“Listen, here junior hitmen. Either you tell me why you’re here, or I’m on the phone to the university EEO to complain about the ‘hostile and abusive’ workplace environment you’re creating,” I snip back.
“We’re here about your Nessus activities,” counters Tweedle Dee.
“I don’t know anything about…”
“Save your lies for the expulsion committee. We know you ran Nessus against the departmental servers.”
“And you know this how?”
“It was coming from your server.”
“Which anyone in the research group has access too.”
“Yes, but it was running scans that require root access.”
“Pretty damning, isn’t it?” adds Tweedle Dum, obviously salivating over the thought of finally getting the best of me.
“No. It wasn’t me, but I’ll find out who it is. Nobody roots my server and gets away with it.”
I storm out of the lab and head for The Love Nest, dialing my old college roommate on my cell phone. By the time I get down there, I’ve got him on the hands-free as I’m busy sifting through the server logs.
“Well, it looks like I got myself rooted,” I gripe, staring at what looks like Martian poetry in what should be my /var/log/messages file.
“What great joy,” says the disembodied voice over the phone. “Local or remote exploit?” the voice continues.
“Well, assuming the logs haven’t been doctored, there were three users on. One of which was me.”
“And the other two?” the voice asks.
“One was Amy, and there’s no way she’d know enough to root my box, and the other….”
My face darkens.
“And this should mean what to me?” inquires the voice.
“He’s the cowboy who cracked my memory chip in half a few weeks back.”
“Well, that’s pretty damning. Any router traffic logs?”
“I can’t get those without the cooperation of the very admins who are trying to get me kicked out of school in the first place.”
“True. But it is unlikely they’d fake those just to get you thrown out. If they’re even half-competent, they would have checked those to rule out external penetration before coming after you.”
“You give them too much credit.”
“Perhaps,” notes the voice. “But if they want to get you, a smoking gun pointing to an external source won’t be good enough. Even so, they have you where they want you.”
“Think. Since there was no external penetration, someone with root access did the dirty deed. You have a log that strongly suggests Li did it, but they can claim you doctored it to save your own tail. Your historical animosity towards Li will aid their case.”
“So? They’ve got no proof. I get off scott free.”
“No. They can’t get you expelled, but they can question your competence as an admin, and make a compelling argument that you’re a security risk…”
“Bloody hell! What they really want is root on my machine for themselves,” I exclaim.
“Correct,” the voice responds. “Which means that unless you can give them an ironclad case against this Li fellow, you’re hosed.”
“Bugger all! How the heck do I do that? As you said, any evidence I present will be suspect.”
“Correct. Consider this thought exercise. Say you wanted to invade a country.”
“You mean, like Iraq?”
“Precisely. You need casus belli, otherwise nobody will buy it. How do you get a reason for war, if the other party isn’t going to give it to you?”
“Get someone else to manufacture one, like WMDs!”
“But who? Someone like…”
“George Tenet,” I exclaim, knowing full well the price of a Presidential Medal of Freedom these days.
“The credibility I lack. After all, why would he be making this crap up?”
“Back to your case: Who has the credibility to condemn Li which you lack?”
“But would he really back you over his Chinese slave labor?” the voice questions.
“Right, so the only other person who could condemn Li would be….”
“Correct again. You need a confession.”
“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver, man,” I say as I hang up, grab my coat and head to Hellalatte, a coffee bar who’s only redeeming quality is that it’s not in the building. If I’m going to get Li to turn himself in, I’m going to need one heck of a plan…
To be continued…
Thanks to longtime reader, Angry Sysadmin for providing the inspiration for this story