Questions, presumptions and speculations

There is pretty much no country in the world that hasn’t heard of Canadian Mobiles, Rogers Telecom and the mess that they are in. I wasn’t paying attention initially, because things do go wrong at times. There can be many to point at in some blame game, but the overall setting is that things just go tits up at times. As such I looked in different directions. That was until yesterday when I saw news that people had been without mobiles for three days, that definitely got my attention. You see things do go wrong, but for a setting of this size to be out of check for that long a time takes a lot. As such I started to look and today I found (at ‘Massive Rogers outage caused by a maintenance update’, this did not make sense to me. I checked ‘bleeping computers’ and beside the name we share, I found nothing really negative. So when I saw ““We now believe we’ve narrowed the cause to a network system failure following a maintenance update in our core network, which caused some of our routers to malfunction early Friday morning,” Staffieri said in a statement published Saturday.” There was something really wrong here. It is possible to loopback a server and realign routers in a matter of hours, this was something else, but so far I could not find anything that gave a decent explanation of the matter. You see, it is a setting of mere hours, so mobiles to be out as well as emergency services, that takes a hell of a lot more. My personal experience (which is not great) is well beyond basic and my graduate degree makes me wonder what actually happened. As such, my mind started to wander through the decades of IT experience and I suddenly remembered something from the 80’s, It was less than a year after the first virus was created. It was called a jigsaw worm. But about that soon enough. 

I cannot tell how Canada runs it business, but EVERY phone I know will have the option to call emergency services and I was seeing all kinds of news that this was not possible. This was more than just a maintenance update.

When going back to the Jigsaw worm, someone had the idea that surpassed a data virus. He created a program that was incomplete. It was like a jigsaw of 4 pieces, the key of part ‘A’ called the lock of ‘C’, the key of ‘C’ called the lock of ‘D’ and so on, when the 4 combined it became a powerful worm, causing mayhem on networks and as one part was created for networks that piece could be set to a TokenRing solution or any other network. The puzzle was interesting, it as novel, but it never got the attention it deserved, and it was forgotten over time, but I do remember it. So now, as we have the Internet of Things, that ‘solution’ becomes a lot more important. And to give you the rundown lets make a new one. In this one we have a 3×3 puzzle. 

Here the important part is piece 8, you see, the previous edition had a weakness, or one that could be detected decently easy nowadays. When we invert the solution, the key does not proclaim it is there, but the lock leaves a flag, each piece its own flags, 8 flags in total. Try finding 8 specific flags on a server system of a telecom company, good luck with that idea. The 8 pieces finding each other and linking and sitting dormant somewhere, optionally in a cloud space that is as badly managed as it is monitored. When the 8 flags are turned piece number 9 comes into play and sets one flag, and the 8 connected pieces accepts piece 9 in its midst and mayhem gets surpassed by chaos in the least acceptable way and it will take a long time to find, because a work does not need to replicate too often, it merely needs to be there. And unless you replace each piece of equipment and purge all data from each system, the damage will merely continue over time. 

This is not my invention, it is almost 40 years old. Well over a decade ago we were taught and others were clearly taught that self-repudiation was going to be a big thing. But there is a group of people where greed and stupidity are neatly and efficiently packaged, such a person tends to be a  member of a board of directors and they were really driven to get as much profit out of everything.  Speed over self-repudiation, greed over privacy and now the chaos will come, more of it and more often as well. 

Could I be wrong?
Of course I could be wrong, this could be a simple setting of stupidity, lack of resources, lack of procedures and policies, it could be that simple. Yet in that how much of these elements needed to go wrong for people to be days without mobiles, without the ability to reach emergency services. Consider that setting and wonder what really happened. I cannot fathom what happened, because I do not know these systems to the degree I would need to know them. But in my speculations, I also realise something else. Canada would never be a good target, but the US, the US could be and Canada was merely a dry run of a new developed system. Is it the one I speculated on? I have no way of telling and in the end it might be merely a speculation that leads to an interesting story, one for TV, or one for the big screen. I will let you consider what I wrote here and consider that no telecom provider when down the way Rogers Telecom went down. In Australia Vodafone had issues, but that was simple a fire in a key component as such the damage was clear and the impact as well. It seems that Rogers Telecom has no idea what the damage is and no idea what the impact will be.

Suddenly my speculation is not that far fetched, is it?


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