SingleHop’s Scary Server Stories Part 1: The Little Black Dot

Dear Readers: welcome to the first of three posts in the “SingleHop’s Scary Server Stories”.  We’ve rewritten some of this year’s noted server failures, hacks, and general “OMG what have I done” moments by giving them a little “seasonal spirit”. We hope you enjoy the stories as much as we did writing them. -Team SingleHop

The Little Black Dot

He was absolutely certain everything had been done right. The firewall was running perfectly, configured so that nothing short of a very stealthy fly could get through – and even then, he'd know about it. The whole system was ready for anything, like a fortress built to withstand any assault. Faced with such a reality, he felt comfortable "making the rounds" as it were, just observing the traffic in a relaxed manner. After all, what's the worst that could happen?

Just as he thought that, he saw something odd. It wasn't anything important or big – really, it was like a small black dot placed dead center on a clean white surface. Small, insignificant, but still there and it made him wonder how it got there in the first place. He decided it was nothing, just one of those little anomalies that cropped up every so often.

"I'm sure it's nothing," he thought. Of course, people only say that when they're sure it was "something."

He looked away, resuming his usual duties, but gnawing at the back of his head was the image of that tiny black blot on a sheet of white. The further away he tried to put his thoughts, the bigger it seemed. He had this creeping feeling that the blot was right behind him, at a point that was right between where his eyes would be if he turned to face it.

And it was getting bigger.

The size increases were incremental and random, like some bubbling growth of muck and brackish air bubbles. Nervously, he turned around and saw nothing out of the ordinary. This time, it was sure it was behind him again, still looming and gnawing away.

It kept happening all night. He was absolutely sure it was behind him, festering like a cancer. Except, each time he turned to face it, it was gone, as if it had crept behind him as he turned. It watched him. It knew his thoughts. It ate away at his mind.

By morning, he was a gibbering wreck, clutching his legs close to his body as he absently bit his own fingernails off little by little. He felt he should have done something about it early on. His gut was sure something was wrong, but he ignored it.

Now the black spot on the white surface was gone, because there wasn't any white left – just a featureless mass of millions of little black dots blotting out the Central Intelligence Agency website.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He'd read that story in school, when he was a kid. It was about that heart that some guy hid in the floorboards of his house after he killed another guy, except the heart kept beating, even when the cops came. He was the only one who could hear it, and it drove the poor guy nuts – crazy enough to confess just to shut the damn heart up.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He didn't like hearing that. He was a security expert for servers. He knew the ins and outs, had a grasp on all the tricks. He liked to say that no matter how sophisticated, no hacker was going to get anything important out of a server he was in charge of.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

All of that was just bragging, bravado. He didn't literally mean it. Nobody, no matter how good, can secure a server such that it is impossible to hack. You'd have to take it off the Internet to do that, and what good is a server that's not connected?

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He'd never expected something so simple to be so complex. It nearly drove him mad trying to figure out how they got in, until a bump on the head made it all clear to him. Not that it would help him now; he was too busy trying not to hear the sound.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

"It's my fault, alright?! I let hackers get away with the entire Michael Jackson music library!"

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He wouldn't be hearing the end of it any time soon.


So, it may not be enough to give you fits and nightmares, but these were certainly issues that can cause any network administrator to have a bad day. What have been some of the things you’ve run into that may have caused heart palpitations? Leave’em in the comments below or lets us know on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading and stay turned, part two arrives in the morning.


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