How to exact revenge or Always stay on the help desk's good side

Toxic fumes from summer renovations had rendered the whiskered one's agency command
bunker uninhabitable. After every help desk staff member had been to the emergency room
twice, the Rat's department head considered alternative working arrangements.

Now that he's back in the office, the Rat had the opportunity to take up some festering
old business. Namely, revenge.

Faithful readers may recall an incident involving a denial-of-service attack on an
intranet test bed by a budding hacker-wannabe in the budget department [GCN, May 26, Page

The unwanted attention that the merry prankster's activities inflicted on the
cyberrodent had left him plotting an appropriate act of reprisal. On his own time, of

Because the evidence linking the culprit to the crime was insufficient for official
action, the Rat turned to more poetic forms of justice, using the quarry's own baser
instincts to draw him into the trap.

But the wired one doesn't want to set a bad example for other workplace vigilantes. He
always makes it a point to follow strict rules of engagement in such matters:

With these rules in mind, the Rat went into action. Before the toxic-fume evacuation
ended, the wired one and a hand-picked help desk assault team donned firefighters'
breathing gear and entered the budget department.

After examining the target's desktop system ("Tsk, an unregistered copy of
Quake"), the Rat Patrol diverted the network connection to a line running directly to
a workbench in the systems support office. They then installed a remote-control agent on
the desktop and retired to a local bar.

The first day after the building was cleared, the Rat and his hench-mammals waited for
Widgeon, their quarry, to log in.

First came the fake warning message. Gleefully the Rat Patrol watched remotely as a
window popped up on Widgeon's screen: "Attention: Unregistered and/or unlawful
applications have compromised the network security of this system. Do you wish to continue
to log in anyway?"

A sudden cessation of mouse and keyboard activity showed the quarry was hooked. The
mouse pointer moved back and forth between the Yes and No buttons for nearly five minutes
as the victim calculated his risks. Then he clicked on Yes.

"Wrong answer," the Rat cackled. The entire help desk sprang into action,
each one opening an application on Widgeon's system and typing into its window, "You
have been hacked."

Then a synthesized voice issued from Widgeon's speaker--"Shall we play a
game?"--and Quake started up at its highest-volume setting. Spies in the budget
department reported a crowd gathering around the victim's cubicle.

For the coup de grace, the Rat brought up a final fake dialog box: "An application
is attempting to format drive C:. Continue?"

Finally, the phone rang. The Rat answered in a cheery sing-song, "Help desk, may I
help you? Yes, Widgeon ... Oooh, that sounds bad."

Another rogue user brought to justice, thanks to the Rat Patrol.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected].

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