Alexandra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Zero-Day Day

This morning I woke up to a text message alert. It was my boss saying a critical vulnerability was announced that impacts our systems. There is no patch to fix the bug, but there are some workarounds. He said everyone needed to go into the office right away. It was only 4 a.m. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

I got ready as quickly as I could. I was so tired I could barely think. I needed coffee, but I was out of coffee. I ran out yesterday and forgot to get more after work last night. This was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

On the train I read about the security bug. It has a catchy name and a slick logo. It has a Twitter account. The bug has better marketing than most of our products.

At least the train wasn’t too crowded, but even though most of the car was empty a guy came on and sat right next to me. He smelled bad and was yelling about god. I moved away. He yelled louder. He called me a bitch.

I bought some coffee from the stand outside the train station. It tasted burnt.

I got into the office and no one was at their desks. I found them in the lab. The guys had already taken all the good chairs. I had to sit in one that is permanently too low and smells vaguely like the guy on the train. It was already a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

It didn’t look like any of our systems had been compromised yet, but 90% of our servers were vulnerable. Ugh. And a lot of the systems used custom configurations, so a single mitigation strategy wasn’t going to work. Definitely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

When the mouse-clicking multitudes arrived at the office they had all heard about the bug on the news. People kept calling our department to ask if we had heard about it. We had. They wanted to know if we were doing anything to fix the systems. We were. At least when we weren’t answering stupid questions.

Perhaps I wasn’t as congenial when people called as I should have been. My boss told me a department manager complained about my attitude. My boss said I have to be empathetic to client concerns. He said this is why I’ll never be a manager.

I think I’ll quit my job and move to Australia.

At lunchtime my boss ordered pizza for the team, but I was in the middle of working on a test script when it arrived. By the time I got to the break room the only pizza left had broccoli on it. I hate broccoli. I opted for a lunch of diet soda and the remainder of the cookie tray instead.

One of my scripts failed integration testing. The QA guy said, “It’s a good thing I caught that.” I thought, “Yeah, because that’s your job.” As I walked away he yelled, “You’re welcome!”

Later, the CEO stopped by to “show support” and “thank you for your hard work.” He asked for a tour of the lab. We showed him a room full of computers that look remarkably like any other computers except these ones were flanked by a lot of empty soda cans. He seemed impressed. As he left he told me to “Smile! It’s not that bad!”

When were ready to make the changes, we first had to get approval from the business owners and then from the server administrators and then from change management. My boss kept asking if we were done yet.

Some departments asked if we could wait to do the updates until after business hours. That meant after business hours on the West Coast. That meant waiting around an extra three hours. My boss said that wasn’t a problem. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

Eventually we got all the changes applied. My boss said someone had to write an after action report. Someone turned out to be me. He said I need to get it to him by next week. I said that next week I’ll be in Australia.

On the way home a guy yelled at me as I walked to my apartment building. He made comments about my face and my ass. I tried to ignore him and kept walking. He yelled louder. He called me a bitch.

When I got home I wanted a beer, but I didn’t have any beer. I also realized that I forgot to get coffee again.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad zero-day day.

Mom says some days are like that.

Even in Australia.

Photo by  Ryan McGuire
Photo by Ryan McGuire

(Story inspiration from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst)

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