I'm not impressed. The Boss has just said the "C" word, and with no provocation either.
"What did you say?", I ask, still not believing what my ears tell me I'm hearing.
"Oh, don't put on the shocked look. I thought you'd enjoy having a consultant to play with; it'll take your mind off annoying the users."
Me?? Annoy users?
"So when is our new friend coming then?"
"First thing after lunch"
Yes, that should give me enough time.
"And might I ask who ... errr ... 'invited' him?"
"Well, the Finance Director did actually. He's worried that we're open to hacking, and that people might get at confidential and potentially damaging financial information, so it was decided that an outside opinion was the best thing. In fact, the FD recommended this chap himself".
Ah, I knew the bean-counters had to have a hand in it somewhere. I've known for some time just how much they spend on hotels for "one-to-one briefings", but one wouldn't want just _anyone_ to know, would one?
"And how much is he charging?"
The number quoted by the boss closely resembles a telephone number. I wonder ...
No time to lose. First thing is to shift a bit of kit around the building; that doesn't take more than half an hour, so I'm soon on-line with that password I found recently. Ah, just as I suspected ... now, just a quick Email (anonymous, of course) to the Personnel people ...
Just then, the new arrival knocks and waits to be asked before entering. He's obviously come across electrified doorhandles in his career. The Boss strides confidently in after him.
"Good afternoon,", spouts the Boss cheerily. I get the feeling it's going to be. "Welcome to our machine room. Let me introduce Simon, our BOFH"
Nice firm handshake, but a little sweaty; he didn't ask what BOFH stands for, so he's obviously used to accepting acronyms he's never heard of without flinching.
"Simon will show you around", adds the Boss. "Can you present your preliminary report to the CEO and myself last thing this afternoon?"
"Certainly. And don't worry about showing me around; I've been in setups like this before".
Oh, no, you haven't ...
He heads off in the direction of the comms room, and I wait for the scream. Silence. Must be wearing rubber-soled shoes ... this guy knows what he's doing.
I busy myself with the tasks of the day, and wonder what he's up to. He certainly seems to be spending a long time in there looking at the firewall, which is reassuring - while he's playing with that, he can't be buggering something else up. I put the coffee pot on, sit back, and watch the CCTV monitor ... now ... all we have to do is wait ...
I remotely drop the main hub from the management console, and the alarm pierces not only the dull hum of the air conditioning but also probably one of his eardrums.
"WHAT'S THAT ALARM MEAN?" he shouts over the alarm.
I silence the alarm with an accurately thrown manual
"WHAT DID YOU TOUCH?"
"NOTHING ... HONEST" - a standard admission of guilt.
Obviously deaf as a post. Nice bonus. I stride into the comms room and grab a bunch of unconnected wires. Okay, they have never been connected to anything, ever, but this is a minor detail.
"So what the hell are these?"
"I SAID, WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE?"
"I ... THINK I'LL JUST GO LOOK AT THE REMOTE BRIDGES"
Five o'clock comes, and we're all sat in the CEO's office. Me, the FD, the CEO, the Boss, and our aurally-challenged friend who is shouting his report so he can hear himself.
"... SO WITH SUCH DISORGANISED CABLING AND A SIXTY-GRAND FIREWALL WHICH IS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD TO LEAK LIKE A SIEVE, YOUR NETWORK IS FULL OF HOLES. WHOEVER PUT THIS KIT IN IS AN IMBECILE".
The CEO looks at me.
"Well, sir," (creeping usually helps), "I wonder if I might just explain a few facts. First, the cabling arrangements weren't helped by our colleague here and his size-tens; didn't you hear the alarm when he trod on something important? Second, I didn't actually order that firewall".
"So who did?"
All eyes turn to the Boss, who remembers an important appointment and dashes out with panic in his eyes. One down, two to go.
"One thing". I look at the CEO. "How long was our consultative associate in your office for this afternoon?".
"Well, I hadn't seen him before this meeting. Why?"
"Because our active firewall is in that data closet over there," I answer, waving toward a door in the corner of the office, "so unless our friend here had been sitting in your room for a couple of hours or so there's no way he could have evaluated our security. Perhaps he just invented a damning report so we could pay him to 'fix' our security on top of the fat consultation fee. That's fraud, isn't it?".
"But what about the firewall in the comms room?", asks a worried-looking consultant.
"Oh, well, when the Boss ordered it I thought I'd better put it somewhere, even though as you rightly say it's no good at all; after all, he could lose his job for blowing sixty grand on something that just sat in the cardboard box, so I thought I'd help him out. Didn't you notice it wasn't connected to the LAN?"
A few choice words from the CEO, detailing where he thought he might insert the cheque for the consulation fee, and our numbers are again decremented.
The silence is broken by the CEO's PC telling him he has new mail. I know this has to be from Personnel (I filtered everything else to /dev/null earlier lest this message get lost among a flood of trivia). I excuse myself, reasoning that I probably couldn't keep a straight face as the CEO inquired of the FD whether he thought that a director who employs a crooked consultant who happens to be married to his sister could possibly stay in office.
As I sit by my console and gaze out of the window, I see our ex-FD drop the contents of his ex-desk all over the car park as Security body-search him for the keys of his company Jag. On-line registers of births, deaths and marriages are a wonderful thing ...