Total Encryption

Selben muted the customer and yawned. It was the last day before a holiday weekend and had been a long shift. Despite only three calls and two emails for the entire day, none of the techs were allowed to leave early, just in case an important issue arose. Sup1 was pacing around the office in a particularly bad mood since he had been given the responsibility of locking up the building when the techs all left.

Selben: Okay… Now reboot.
User: It won’t reboot!
Selben: Click reboot.
User: Oh, its rebooting now! Is it done?!
Selben: Let’s wait for it to reboot…

Selben finished all his notes for the ticket, then stared down at the time, waiting for it to magically speed up, while responding to the customer with the occasional ‘Yep, just wait! And what do you see now?’.

User: It’s working now!
Selben: Great, have a wonderful weekend!
User: Okay, bye!

Selben returned to staring at the empty call queue.

With two hours remaining, Selben watched as a couple other techs finished their shifts, nodding in solidarity as they headed out. Another hour passed with no calls or emails, Selben sat quietly. Sup1 was on his cell chatting with someone, looking a bit more cheerful as the day was finally coming to an end. Once Selben was off his shift, Sup1 could also leave – from what he overheard Selben concluded Sup1 had a date. With ten minutes left, naturally Selben’s phone began to ring, he could practically feel the dagger like eyes from Sup1 across the room.

Selben: Thank you for calling, this is Selben.

A panicked voice came from the other side.

HRDrone: This is HRDrone from HR!
Selben: Okay.
HRDrone: I need to take care of something urgently! But you can’t look at it, because the information is confidential! I need this file completely encrypted!
Selben: Okay, no problem! That should only take a couple minutes.

Sup1 stood next to Selben’s desk, pointing at his watch. Selben muted the call briefly and explained it was someone from HR. Sup1 threw his hands in the air and stomped back to his office.

Selben was eventually able to get HRDrone to give up some of the “classified information.” It was something that had to do with a legal issue, so to be emailed around it needed to be encrypted. Simple enough. Selben offered to connect in and show how to use the software they normally use. However, HRDrone refused to let him connect in case he tried to look at the files.


After two and a half hours, Selben was finally able to walk HRDrone through installing the software and encrypting the file. HRDrone seemed happy about the success and finally the call ended.

No sooner had the receiver hung up, Sup1 was practically pulling Selben out of his chair and pushing him out the door. Besides the minor delay, Selben had a good holiday weekend. The whole company was off, and the IT Department was included – three worry-free days of bliss.

Naturally upon returning to work Tuesday morning, Selben was ambushed then captured greeted and taken to a side office by some HR minions employees. HRDrone, Sup2, and the head of HR were already waiting. Everyone was very upset, so Selben sat and patiently waited to be fired for something he had (or hadn’t) done. After the long weekend it’s sometimes tough bounce back into things without coffee.

HRLead: I need to know why things were handled this way.
Sup2: Please explain to us what the problem is.
HRDrone: HE! (dramatically points at Selben) took forever to encrypt my files and then it didn’t even work. I’m betting is was because he was in a rush to leave on Friday. This is poor customer service!
Sup2: Selben is more than capable of running the encryption software. I doubt he just didn’t do it.
Selben: Ah, well, I was told to not connect to the machine, so I spent two and a half hours walking HRDrone through the process.

Sup2 raised an eyebrow.

HRLead: Why wouldn’t you let him connect? He’s part of IT.
HRDrone: It’s part of The Files.
HRLead: You mean The Files?! Of course they can’t see it!

Selben refrained from letting his eyes roll into the back of his head.

Sup2: Okay, let’s just fix this. Can we look at the file?

After much convincing that seeing a filename wouldn’t let IT know the contents of The File, they got HRDrone to show The File. As Selben expected, it was encrypted, and no issue could be seen by him or Sup2.

Sup2: So, what’s the…

HRDrone interrupted, holding up a hand with a smug look. He opened an email, dated before the call to Selben on Friday, where the file had been shared with him from HRLead, and opened it.

HRDrone: See, it’s not encrypted at all! Also, watch this.

HRDrone pulled out a thumb drive. Selben bit his lip after making the realization of what was about to happen. HRDrone put the drive into his machine and was able to open the file stored on it without decrypting it as well.

Selben glanced over at HRLead, who had gone quiet, seeing his jaw was actually slightly dropped.

Sup2: Okay, I’ve seen enough. HRLead, we will schedule some training for your staff on how encryption works in the next week.
HRLead: Agreed.

As a recap, HRDrone thought once you encrypted a file that all copies of the file in every location would also be encrypted. All HR reps were scheduled to go through a mandatory training over the next month on how to use the encryption software and expectations of how it should function.