When John Smith started his job as the IT Manager/Network Admin/Webmaster for a small, sixty-employee subsidiary, he thought that he had found a pretty sweet gig. Everybody from his boss on down seemed reasonable, plus he got a laptop and a nice 19" LCD monitor. And best of all, the vending machine gave out drinks for $0.25.
Overall, things went along pretty smoothly and, once he got to understand how everything was connected at the company, he brought up some very good suggestions on how to improve things further. Including his idea for an VPN to secure transactions between his and the parent company. But instead of a round of applause, John got a nervous "Well, your VPN idea sounds pretty solid, but.....you're going to need to run that past Dave first."
If every silver lining has a dark cloud behind it, John's dark cloud was Dave. Hailing from the parent company in California, Dave was in a similar position as John, only the slightly larger scale of 500 or so employees. However, unlike John, he had the annoying quirk of treating everyone as though they were beneath him both organizationally and intellectually. While Dave did have seniority within the company, what made him "officially l33t" was his thirty-year friendship with the parent company's CEO. This volatile combination essentially made anything that Dave said "law" and, as such, Dave's word was to be followed to the letter. This was immediately to John when he pitched Dave on setting up a VPN during a conference call.
"What kind of suggestion is that to come from a rookie? I've spent the better part of a half-decade shoring up our network," countered Dave, "The network is secure. Period. End of story."
"What about hackers? Viruses? Trojan hor--"
"You need to have outside access to the internet to be able to give a virus or hacker a foothold in. My network design as tight as a steel drum and, besides, only I choose who is allowed access to the outside world. There's no way that I'd chance some seventeen-year intern downloading some garbage off of FaceTube to ruin our network."
Just as John was about to interject with the fact that the companies were connected by an unsecured link over the Internet, his manager quickly hit the mute button. Based on previous experience, his manager realized that this was the part of the conference call where Dave would deliver an uninterruptable five-minute tirade that can be loosely translated as "No chance in hell".
Once in a Million Years is Today
A few weeks after the ill-fated VPN discussion, John got an early afternoon call from a low level tech at the parent company. The tech stated that they were experiencing some minor "technical difficulties" and were shutting down their entire network. Shortly thereafter, John sent out a broadcast message to the employees that everyone would need to disconnect from the CRM system until further notice. Later in the day, John got another call advising that the parent company's network would be down for the entire weekend.
As a network admin, these two phone calls really piqued John's interest. What would cause a network admin to shut down a network in the middle of the business day, and then shut it down for an entire weekend? Only two things came to mind: they had been hacked or they got a virus. But still, John wondered, what sort of attack could have penetrated Dave's impenetrable security?
John had no luck getting any information from the rank-and-file technicains, as they kept insisting that the "technical difficulties" were behind the shut down. To address his curiosity, John decided to go straight to the top: the CEO. He crafted a clever query with the honest intent “to prevent this from happening here”. The CEO took the bait and said that he would try to find out why, but that he may not be able to get a straight answer right away, as things were still pretty hectic.
After waiting for two days with no answer, John received a voice mail message at home one evening. It was the CEO. He called to say that their network had been brought down by a virus but didn't provide any additional information.
At this point, John's mind was full of questions: Which virus? How did it get past the anti-virus? What did it affect? The bottom line was that this was huge and now John simply HAD to know the whole story.
The Truth Revealed
The next morning, hoping to soothe his mounting curiosity, John called the CEO back. This time, he was going to ask specifics and he wasn't going to take "technical difficulties" for an answer. John was surprised to find that the CEO was remarkably forthcoming about the outage. In fact, he sounded somewhat proud.
The CEO began, "Yeah, the funny part of it all, it turned out that someone within the company received a fake email from CNN, clicked on a link, and caused a virus spread like wildfire."
"How did it get past the antivirus?"
"Our servers and desktops didn't have any antivirus installed. Dave does not believe in it."
With John's jaw now touching the floor in disbelief, "W-well, how did they remove the viruses from the computers?"
"Dave went out and bought every copy of Norton Antivirus at the local Best Buy, installed it on the servers and desktops, cleaned the virus, and then uninstalled the software. They have the servers done and have less than a third of the PCs to go. We should be back to full capacity soon." The CEO continued, "This was a tragedy, but Dave has been doing this for twenty years now. I trust that he knows what he's doing."
Gathering himself, John replied, "Oh...Okay - well, that explains things. Thank you for your time."
As he hung up the phone, John couldn't help but smile to himself a little. The next time that Dave would take his holier-than-thou attitude, all that John would have to do is imagine Dave fumbling around with a handful of retail Norton discs, managing a corporate-wide install and uninstall of anti-virus software. Though John had yet to earn the seniority, at least he no longer felt beneath Dave.