SHARK TANK June 28

Tales from thw world of ICT

Backing-up with blanks Sysadmin pilot fish draws the task of investigating encryption for his company's backups. "We have a mainframe that runs our core system," says fish. "Each night we back up to an on-site tape and then make a copy of the tape to go off-site. Couriers shuttle the tape back and forth between the sites each day." The obvious place to apply encryption is to those off-site tapes, so fish decides to create an encrypted copy of a tape to show how well the process works. And the encryption process works fine every time. But when fish tries to decrypt the tape, no data comes out. After fish spends several weeks experimenting, talking to vendors and growing more and more frustrated, one of his co-workers asks whether he has checked the script that generates the copy of the tape. That seems unlikely to be the problem, the same script has been used for years -- but fish checks the code anyway. It turns out that, a few years before, the company swapped out the tape drives for newer models -- but the script was never updated. Sighs fish, "For the last several years our off-site copy was never made. We had couriers shuttling a blank tape back and forth to the sites, as well as a replacement schedule in place for a tape that never had any data on it."

Details guy goofs Every morning at this company, a few workers get together before work to chat -- and this pilot fish is usually in the group. "Since I'm the only one who works in the IT department, I get all the computer-related questions," says fish. "Today, an additional person was there: a quality engineer who verifies that our manufacturing processes are correct, and who makes sure that our manufacturing instructions are written correctly, clearly and accurately. "He looked at me and said, 'Hey, my safety box is making strange gecko-like noises.' "What he was trying to say was: His computer's UPS was beeping because of a bad battery. "I'm just glad he doesn't write my work instructions."

Gaming the system "In checking for performance issues on my client's workstations, I discover that most have games installed, in particular, online casino apps," Pilot fish recalls.

"I tell the client we need to remove all malware which also means removing all games. He agrees." All is well for a day or two when the client calls me, annoyed because programs he urgenly needs have been disabled. As it turns out, "Programs" means one specific program — an online casino program." His reasoning? "I thought you meant we had to get rid of all video games."

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