Flashback to the late 1980s, when IT and the vice president he reports to are getting a sales pitch for a new manufacturing system. First comes the walk-through of the system. Then IT sits with the senior salesman to get technical specs, while his boss gets the chance to explore more features of the software. IT reports: "The senior salesman says to me, 'Our system is completely idiot-proof.' From years of experience in IT, I know how wrong that idea can be and reply: 'If you think so, then you just haven't yet met a big enough idiot.' "At exactly that instant, from across the room we hear the other sales rep say that the program has crashed. Turns out my boss was entering some data and got a message saying he could abort the transaction with ESCAPE. So that's exactly what he did. He typed 'ESCAPE' and pressed the Return key. Not only did he take down the application software, the entire system froze and had to be restarted by one of their techs before we could continue."


This user can't log in to get his e-mail one morning, and he figures he needs his password reset, as usual. But instead, the helpdesk opens a trouble ticket and promises to send a tech out right away. "About 2:30pm the tech shows up," grumbles user. "He spends half an hour checking the setup and reinstalling software. The system still refuses to authenticate. Finally, he calls the e-mail guru. After a short conversation, he hangs up, turns to me and says, 'Your server has been down all day.'"


A former security guard at a General Motors' technical centre has been charged with stealing documents containing the names and Social Security numbers of about 100 GM employees and using those numbers to hack into the company's employee-vehicle database. The ex-employee, James Green, sent e-mails to employees asking them questions about their vehicles. He was arraigned last week on eight counts of obtaining, possessing or transferring personal identity information, one count of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of stalking that was unrelated to the GM cases. Green told police he sent the e-mails out of "boredom".

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