The curious case of disgruntled technicians and DOS machines

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I work for a small IT company. Actual names are not important at all, as I’m sure this story has happened at some point in time, somewhere, somehow.

One of our associates has a cousin who works in the security business. Actual, physical security with agents, cars, batons, the whole nine yards. One day we get a call from the associate (who is not that tech-savvy, by the way) who tells us that the technicians from the dispatch service at the security company changed the passwords and left, just like that, and that we should come and take a look if anything can be saved. We were kind of bored, so – yes, why not.

When we came to the proverbial crime scene we were astonished, to say the least. The server rack had random hardware piled one on top of one another, cable management was non-existent, and after closer inspection, we figured out that the small, brown droppings that were all around the rack were of rodent origin.

Alright, not a problem, I’m from the countryside, I’ve seen worse stuff. But, for what I saw next you’re just not ready to see, you’ve maybe heard about it in the BBS’s in the nineties, or at a dark, smokey bar, where the regular piece of inventory is that long-haired, long-bearded, burned-out programmer who hates kids with their fancy script languages, frameworks, and JS.

The machines were running on DOS, and this was 2015, mind you. OK, if it works for them, who am I to judge, but you do realize that a gust of air would break the whole system apart. There were also some Windows XP machines, running other parts of the system, like the geo-maps, connected to the wifi. We had to rescue the wifi first, they’ve changed the passwords. No biggie, it’s done in five, and we realize that the new wifi password was… An act involving the owner of the company, his bodily orifices and such. That’s when we realized – the techs were probably treated like crap. But it doesn’t matter, we’re here to help our associate and have fun.

We took a look at the DOS computers and figure out it’s some kind of proprietary software, written in 1993, but still jolly and purring like a kitten, but alas, without the master password that is needed for the dispatch service to operate at all. Since the software was peer-to-peer based, we were able to turn off one at a time, clone the hard drive content and leave without a trace, or disrupting the functioning of the system.

After a couple of days of data-mining (the term is used very vaguely since we actually went through a metric ton of binary and non-binary .DAT files), we found out that the master password was changed to… Blu-ray. Yes, Blu-ray, I’m sorry for the anti-climax, but it was Blu-ray. And I started thinking about the poor technicians going like: “Look, guys, I’m gonna tell him, by changing the wifi password, what we actually want to tell him, and as for the master password on the dispatch system… Yeah, I’m all out of ideas. Anyone?” – “Blu-ray.”

“Blu-ray?” – “Yes, blu-ray.”

The security company was saved, our associate was happy, we were happy for the experience, and as for the disgruntled techs, we hope they’re at a cleaner and better paying job right now.

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