August 10, 2005

The Log Watcher

This was inspired by true events. The names have been changed to protect my job.

The day started out like every other day. Hot, humid, and full of hackers. I hate hackers. Hackers are the lowest form of life. They’re so low they could crawl under an ant’s belly without bending over.

I was at my desk in the lab, the CAH lab, the heart of all anti-hacking activity in the company, when she walked in. “Joe,” she said, because that’s my name, “we have a situation. The log files are filling up and it’s causing a lot of stuff to stay on the network. This is a bad one, Joe, and we need your help.” She was right; they did need my help. Why? Because I’m Joe Pericardia, Certified Security Expert. If they needed logs looked at, then they came to the right guy. I look at logs, it’s what I do.

The server room oozed efficiency, all cold steel and blinky lights. The air was chilly, as chilly as my wife’s stare when I ask for nookie. The blinky lights of the server farm were like stars in the heaven, and their morse-coded message was clear. “We need you, Joe. You’re our only hope.” Oh how right they were. I was here to do a job. I was here to find the hacking scum who had the audacity to fill up the log files. You don’t hack on my watch, Scum, because I’ll find you. I’ll hunt you down like the vermin you are and make you disappear like my hair from male pattern baldness. Why? Why will I hunt you down? Because I look at logs, it’s what I do.

I logged into the server, fingers flying over the keyboard, typing my super-secret password; L0gWatcH3R. The logs lay bare before me, awaiting my touch like a virgin on her wedding night. I scanned them quickly, getting their vibe, listening to them tell me their deepest, darkest secrets. My fingers caressed the keyboard, the soft clicks of the keys like her high heels walking away, my money safely tucked in her garterbelt and my gargantuan lust sated until payday rolled around again.

I delved deeper into the logs, their secrets revealing themselves to me. There. Wait. No. That’s me. Hmm. Could that? No. It was harder than I expected, the hacker more clever than I imagined. “This guy’s good,” I thought to myself, “but not as good as me.” She stuck her head in the door, “I just wanna wish you good luck, we’re all counting on you”. Her confidence inspired me, as did her tight sweater. “Don’t worry, babe, I’ll find these scum and when I do, they’ll wish they were never born.”

Sweat began to bead on my forehead despite the cool, crisp air of the 4-ton Leibert swirling around me. I began to doubt myself. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? Had I finally met my hacking match, my Moriarty, my Lex Luthor? “Knock it off, Joe,” I said to myself, cause that’s my name, “you’re the only one who can find these hacking scum and wipe them off the face of the earth. You're our only hope.” And I was right. I was the only hope they had. I was going to be the iceberg to his Titanic. Because I look at logs. It’s what I do.

I found it. It tried to hide from me like former girlfriends who couldn’t handle my passion. After hours of searching logs, I found it. It was right before my eyes and I’d missed it. I’d missed it because he is us and we are him. It took me a minute to process. “This can’t be right, Joe,” I said to myself, “he’s one of the good guys. One of the true blue. He is one of us.” Unfortunately, I knew it was true. I looked at the logs and the logs don’t lie. The hacking scum was an employee of the Bureau. I was about to take down one of my own. Harold Baggel…no, wait, Marty, it’s Marty Baggel. Damn those two for looking alike.

I printed the evidence, the printer chattering away like Kendall during a department-wide staff meeting. This was going to be a hard one. I’d never taken down a fellow employee and I didn’t know how to go about it. This had to be handled delicately so as not to spook the scum. And employee or not, he was still scum. Hacking scum. I was pondering what to do when she poked her head in, “I just wanna wish you good luck, we’re all counting on you”.

I put my plan into motion. If executed properly, the hacking scum would be in my grubby little hands by the end of the day. I crafted a carefully worded email so as not to alert him to knowledge lodged deeply in my brain.

I am still getting those log messages about Marty's log in failures. Can we try and track down the problem this AM.

They wouldn’t suspect a thing. Hacking scum are stupid.

I waited on pins and needles, feeling like the guy whose condom broke while his girlfriend’s out peeing on a stick. It didn’t take long for them to take the bait.

What do you propose we look at?


Damn, not David too. Sweet, innocent, letter-writing David. Damn that hacking scum, Harold…uh, I mean, Marty! He must have used some Vulcan mind trick on David to get him to cooperate. Oh, the pain upon realizing that I’d be taking down two of my fellow co-workers. My gut was tied up in knots like Jack after too many Whataburgers. I had to proceed with caution. One hacking scum is easy to fool…two would be harder. I responded as eloquently as always, asserting my authority and knowledge of all-things hacking related.

I have no idea. But Marty said Harold was doing something yesterday with some proxy stuff maybe look at that, Or maybe a sniffer. It is filling up my log file with bad password or username messages. I get emails for every time it does it.

Take that hacking scum! I waited again, feeling like the guy whose condom broke while his wife is out peeing on a stick. I knew it wouldn’t take them long to respond, but waiting was hard. I thought of all the good times we had together. Me asserting my authority and knowledge of all things computer related and them laughing behind my back. Ahh, those were the days. My email hooted like an owl in the night.

Well, here is the deal, I don't know exactly what is doing it at this point but looking at what we saw yesterday, its hard to imagine its a threat. If we have something specific to look at, or an idea, that's fine, we can look into it, otherwise, my daily duties are going to have to get done this morning. Otherwise Ill gladly let you log onto the machine to look at it if you need to.


Nice try, hacking scum, but your pathetic attempt at logic won’t fool me. I invented the “tell me what I should do” move when you were still in diapers. I’ll take this to a higher authority. I’ll take this to the one person that I know can solve my problem. As I was getting up to leave, she stuck her head in the lab, “I just wanna wish you good luck, we’re all counting on you”.

I walked towards Conference Room A like a prize fighter walking into the ring. I wouldn’t be pushed around by hacking scum like them. The world is too good a place for the likes of hacking scum such as David and Harold…dammit!...I mean Marty. I crossed the lab floor, peering at the LAN guys through the glass like fish in a fishbowl. I marched into the room, evidence in hand, noticing the scared looks of the LAN guys around me. You better be scared, Gentlemen, hacking scum have invaded the office.

Handing the evidence to McDowell, I make my case. “Someone is hacking the network using Marty’s userid. It’s sending me emails. This has got to stop.”

“Um, Joe,” someone asks timidly, “what’s the problem?”

“The problem, Mister,” I say forcefully, “is that the hacking scum is attempting to infiltrate the network and it’s sending unnecessary stuff onto the network And it’s emailing me. A lot. Make it stop.”

“Well,” says McDowell, “how do you know this, Joe? How do you know that we’re being invaded by hacking scum who are sending unnecessary stuff on the network and emailing you too often? How, by god, do you know?”

“It’s my job, McDowell. It’s my job. I look at logs. It’s what I do”.


This is funny shit.

Thanks for the laugh, (and the chat).

Posted at August 10, 2005 09:56 PM

Up until the end I thought you had been drafting a brilliant fictionalized "noir" version of IT support. Based on the last couple hundred words, it began to have the ring of "real life" to it.

Good stuff, no matter what.

Posted at August 10, 2005 10:40 PM

D'oh! I missed the first line of the post. Please disregard my previous comment.

Very good.

Posted at August 10, 2005 10:45 PM

But what happened?

Posted at August 11, 2005 09:20 AM

So, wait, logs are virgins, and keyboards are hookers, right? Did I get that right?

Posted at August 11, 2005 10:42 PM