Chapter 11
Short Takes
I’m not a cryptanalyst, not a mathematician. I just know how people make mistakes in applications and they make the same mistakes over and over again.
— Former hacker turned security consultant
Some of the stories we were given in the process of writing this book didn’t fit neatly into any of the preceding chapters but are too much fun to ignore. Not all of these are hacks. Some are just mischievous, some are manipulative, some are worthwhile because they’re enlightening or revealing about some aspect of human nature . . . and some are just plain funny.
We enjoyed them and thought you might, too.


Jim was a sergeant in the U.S. Army who worked in a computer group at Fort Lewis, on Puget Sound in the state of Washington, under a tyrant of a top sergeant who Jim describes as “just mad at the world,” the kind of guy who “used his rank to make everyone of lesser rank miserable.” Jim and his buddies in the group finally got fed up and decided they needed to find some way of punishing the brute for making life so unbearable.
Their unit handled personnel record and payroll entries. To ensure accuracy, each item was entered by two separate soldier-clerks, and the results were compared before the data was posted to the person’s record.
The revenge solution that the guys came up with was simple enough, Jim says. Two workers made identical entries telling the computer that the sergeant was dead.
That, of course, stopped his paycheck.
When ...

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