Arrogant admin exposed by rogue routers

A brash IT pro lands a job as a senior network admin, but soon his errors cause problems for the top execs

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When I arrived, the CEO's laptop was docked, the Ethernet cable was plugged in, the link light was on, and he had a 1Gb network connection. The connection didn't have a "limited or no connectivity" warning, either. Weird. I tried pinging a couple of the servers, but each time got "Request timed out." I released and renewed the IP address, then started to put two and two together.

Our corporate network was running on "class A" 10.x.x.x subnets, but the IP address I had acquired from DHCP was a "class C" 192.168.1.5. I remembered that the day before Eric had gotten a big box from UPS and overheard him announce, "Yeah, the parts came in. I'll be able to fix that wireless problem tomorrow." I realized what must have happened.

I told the CEO I'd be right back, ran down the stairs to the next floor, and went into a conference room where there had been Wi-Fi signal issues. Sure enough, Eric had set up a $30 home wireless router and plugged it right into the corporate network. I unplugged it and ran to the next conference room that was having the issue. Another wireless router was plugged right into the wall.

My phone rang, and it was the administrative assistant for the director of marketing; he too was having problems. I told her I would have the issue resolved shortly. After disconnecting the second router, I went to the third area with signal issues and found Eric in a vacant cubicle, setting up another router. I explained the problems people were having and asked him to unplug it.

"No, these shouldn't be causing any problems. Relax, man," he replied.

I didn't even dignify his comment. I just unplugged the wireless router and took it with me.

After having the CEO and director of marketing reboot, their computers pulled the proper IP addresses and everything worked again. That afternoon the director of IT, Eric, and I had a little sit-down about the incident. Even after I explained exactly what happened and why the routers had knocked the computers off the network, Eric was still claiming that his routers had nothing to do with the problems and should work just fine.

The director of IT disagreed and ordered Eric to remove all of the rogue wireless routers he had set up. After some time passed and he could not produce another solution for the Wi-Fi problem, a third-party contractor was called in to resolve the signal issue and Eric was demoted back to desktop support. A few months later, his other bad behaviors caught up with him and he was fired.

The takeaway from this situation? Confidence and competence are not the same. Just because someone sounds knowledgeable in the interview does not mean they actually know what the heck they are doing.

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This story, "Arrogant admin exposed by rogue routers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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