CompUSA and the Dummies books are teaching users just enough of the tech alphabet to spell trouble.
One of my favorite stories was the network that was severely hacked by someone who came in from the outside and deleted the main Exchange message store. Firewall logs had gotten the local IT admin nowhere, so we were called in to do a little snooping around. I wish I’d thought of it, but another guy on the team had the sense to run AirSnort. He found a wide open Linksys wireless access point in about six seconds.
The internal admin insisted there was no wireless running anywhere on the network. It took some sneaker netting, but we found the rogue AP in a senior exec’s office about 20 minutes later. Seemed he saw how cheap they were at the local CompUSA and decided to plug one into the secondary network port in his office so he could use his notebook’s wireless instead of the wired connection because no wires “looks better.”
Another problem in this vein is USB. Being able to plug in a peripheral and achieve working status without the need to install drivers has rapidly spread the popularity of personal peripherals. You don’t want to get yourself get sucked into supporting things such as printers that aren’t on your official purchase list -- or external hard disks, DVD drives, sound systems, and even monitors.
Nor do you want the security risk of an employee plugging in a gig or two of empty space into any workstation’s USB port and copying important corporate information. Source code, accounting data, and historical records all can be copied quickly and then walk out in somebody’s hip pocket.
Solution: Let employees know what is and isn’t acceptable as corporate peripherals. Keep an accurate asset record of what belongs to the IT department so you can more easily find or ignore the stuff that doesn’t. And if data theft is a problem, think about protecting yourself by disabling USB drives, uninstalling CD-RW drives, or similar measures. The work you do now can save your bacon later.
Moral: Asset management isn’t just for the anal. Knowing exactly what’s supposed to be on your network is a key step to solving a wide variety of IT mysteries.
Stupid user tricks: Eleven IT horror stories
A long-suffering consultant and InfoWorld contributor recounts his tales of user catastrophe and lessons learned -- and shares astounding stories from readers, tooFollow @infoworld