Seriously, boss? You want that stupid password? OK, you get that stupid password

Fed-up techie wields the magic of malicious compliance on his way out the door

Who, Me? Can it be Monday already, dear reader? Well, doesn't time fly! Welcome once again to Who, Me? The Register's weekly dip into the mailbag for tales of readers' on-the-job shenanigans.

This week's shenanigator is a fellow we've met before – we Regomized him as "Ben" then and we'll do the same this time.

Back in the misty days of the mid-1990s Ben was working for a small company programming apps to run on Unix with a little work as a systems administrator on the side. And when we say small, we mean small – there was no HR department, no perceptible management structure, no staff development plans or overarching strategy. The boss was a managing director who, as far as Ben could tell, knew absolutely nothing about what he was doing and did not engender any degree of respect.

In other words, not the sort of place where one builds a long-term career. So essentially from the day he arrived, Ben was looking for a way back out.

Our story begins when the company won a contract that it was not equipped to deliver. Ben was called in to help, along with two temporary programmers.

Once the job was done, the temps high-tailed it out of there, leaving Ben as the sole employee with any working knowledge of Unix. He was handling the integration single-handedly, while also applying for his escape route gig.

Once he found a new employer, he gave his notice and worked out his contractual two weeks. At no point during that time did the boss express much interest in learning the ropes of the project or handing it off to someone new.

On Ben's last day, the MD popped into Ben's office and asked for an account on the server so that he could use the new Unix system.

"What on Earth for," thought Ben, "He doesn't know enough to be able to use it?" Nonetheless, he dutifully did as he was told.

With the account created, Ben asked the MD to choose a password.

"Eleven, oh five, fifty four"* said the MD. Probably his birthday, Ben guessed.

Of course that's a pretty bad password. Wouldn't take much to crack it with brute force, and even easier if you knew the MD's birthday. But Ben wasn't there to teach anyone good password habits.

He did, however, have a thought: perhaps the MD knows enough about Unix to know that the password couldn't be all numbers, and that's why he cleverly said "oh" instead of "zero". That ought to stymie any would-be miscreants.

So that's what he did. He set the password as "11o554" with a letter O right there in the middle. "Precisely what he requested," Ben tells us.

And then Ben was gone, leaving the MD to sort that out for himself.

Ever taken sweet revenge through their magic of malicious compliance? Tell us all about it in an email to Who, Me? and we'll tell your story exactly as you tell it to us. OK, we might fix the spelling. ®

*(Not the actual password created.)

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