Packet Rat: The Rat encounters the dark side of the source

The Rat

Michael J,. Bechetti

As the Rat squeezed through the ventilation ducts of a certain office park in Redmond, Wash., he reflected on how his life had gone awry.

It made little difference that he had come armed with a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. A flippant suggestion of his had been taken too seriously by irony-impaired Homeland Security Department officials, who had conscripted him to implement it.

'At least this time they let me grease up first,' the wired one thought as he squirted out of the ductwork into Microsoft Corp.'s data center.

After the most recent rash of Microsoft security bug reports'on the tail of Homeland Security's announcement that Microsoft products would be the departmental standard'the whiskered one had been asked how DHS could contain damage caused by future software bugs.

Never one to pass up a chance at a wisecrack, he'd suggested spying on Microsoft's developers to catch bad code as it is being written.

But thanks to his impressively fabricated credentials in data communications, the Rat's jest was taken as a grant proposal. And now here he was, tasked with installing the spyware to turn his joke into reality.

'I'm in the server room,' he whispered into his radio headset, 'sniffing for the location of the development group servers.'

Under a section of raised floor, the cyberrodent slithered toward the desk of the sysadmin on duty, flipped open his cell phone and dialed. The phone rang on the desk above.

'Server room,' the unsuspecting config-boy answered.

'Hey, this is Allchin,' the Rat screeched. 'The SourceSafe server for Longhorn is hung again. Kick it.'

'Yessir!' the panicked server-sitter replied. He jumped up and ran to a rack of servers, while the Rat watched through a pocket periscope.

After flipping the power switch off and on, the sitter returned to the desk to finish watching his 'Clerks' DVD.

Meanwhile, with his target now identified, the Rat squirmed beneath the floor panels to the server rack, where he painfully peeled away the duct tape, along with a quantity of fur, to free a CD-ROM case attached to his back. Inserting the CD into the still-rebooting server, he scurried back into the shadows.

Once the spookware was installed, the Rat retrieved his CD, retaped it to the now-bare spot on his back and clambered up into the ductwork.

Just then the server room door burst open.

'Mr. Allchin!' the sysadmin yelped. 'I reset the SourceSafe server like you wanted.'

The white-haired Windows veep raised an eyebrow. 'So now you're psychic? I was just coming down to kick the box myself.'

'Didn't you just call?' the server-jockey quavered.

The veep looked suspicious. 'How much Jolt have you been drinking?' He turned to leave, then hesitated, muttering darkly, 'I sense a disturbance in the LAN.'

He turned back to the groveling net-attendant. 'Call security. I think I smell a Rat.'

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

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