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Tales from Tech Support
This is just one of the incredible "Tales from Tech Support" you can find on
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
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?
[email protected] ...(*)/(*). CI$: 76340.2422
PGP Pub Key fingerprint = A8 FA 55 92 23 20 72 69 52 AB 64 CC C7 D9 4F CA
Avail on Pub Key server.