1995-07-31 - Customer Service?

Header Data

From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 75c0fe44842a75efd99c87479817747de7d178c9aa0d4bd5e413240c93902935
Message ID: <v02120d03ac42ce45d415@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1995-07-31 18:17:51 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 31 Jul 95 11:17:51 PDT

Raw message

From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 95 11:17:51 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Customer Service?
Message-ID: <v02120d03ac42ce45d415@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Veracity suspect, but an interesting crypto story nonetheless...

>Subject: Tech support story (fwd)
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
> [Urban legend of the day...]
> Subject: Stressful tech call
> To: Customer Service; TechSports
> This falls into the "Why did it have to happen on *MY* shift?" category.
> A friend of mine is a chief engineer at SuperMac, and he related this
> story to me.
> SuperMac records a certain number of technical support calls at random,
> to keep tabs on customer satisfaction.  By wild "luck", they managed to
> catch the following conversation on tape.
> Some poor SuperMac TechSport got a call from some middle level official
> from the legitimate government of Trinidad.  The fellow spoke very good
> English, and fairly calmly described the problem.
> It seemed there was a coup attempt in progress at that moment.  However,
> the national armoury for that city was kept in the same building as the
> Legislature, and it seems that there was a combination lock on the door
> to the armoury.  Of the people in the capitol city that day, only the
> Chief of the Capitol Guard and the Chief Armourer knew the combination to
> the lock, and they had already been killed.
> So, this officer of the government of Trinidad continued, the problem is
> this.  The combination to the lock is stored in a file on the Macintosh,
> but the file has been encrypted with the SuperMac product called Sentinel.
> Was there any chance, he asked, that there was a "back door" to the
> application, so they could get the combination, open the armoury door,
> and defend the Capitol Building and the legitimately elected government
> of Trinidad against the insurgents?
> All the while he is asking this in a very calm voice, there is the sound
> of gunfire in the background. The Technical Support guy put the person on
> hold. A phone call to the phone company verified that the origin of the
> call was in fact Trinidad.  Meanwhile, there was this mad scramble to see
> if anybody knew of any "back doors" in the Sentinel program.
> As it turned out, Sentinel uses DES to encrypt the files, and there was
> no known back door.  The Tech Support fellow told the customer that aside
> from trying to guess the password, there was no way through Sentinel, and
> that they'd be better off trying to physically destroy the lock.
> The official was very polite, thanked him for the effort, and hung up.
> That night, the legitimate government of Trinidad fell.  One of the BBC
> reporters mentioned that the casualties seemed heaviest in the capitol,
> where for some reason, there seemed to be little return fire from the
> government forces.
> O.K., so they shouldn't have kept the combination in so precarious a
> fashion. But it does place, "I can't see my Microsoft Mail server"
> complaints in a different sort of perspective, does it not?

Bob Hettinga

Robert Hettinga (rah@shipwright.com)
Shipwright Development Corporation, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131
USA (617) 323-7923
"Reality is not optional." --Thomas Sowell
>>>>Phree Phil: Email: zldf@clark.net  http://www.netresponse.com/zldf <<<<<