Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Marsh gas reflected from Venus

This is more a tale from the trenches of technical support.

I used to work for a big company, one of the largest providers of PC’s in my country, on their premium rate technical support line. Shortly after the company bought out an Internet Service Provider (back in the days of dialup), we started getting calls from customers that were completely unable to get access to the internet. We discovered this to be due to a virus on the computer that was blocking access, but could not find details of this virus anywhere, it seemed to be particular to our machines. We contacted the software escalation team, and were told ‘Factory restore them’. But the problem did not go away. Eventually, the problem was so rife our team got one customer to send in their computer to us.

We discovered the ‘virus’ did not block all access to the internet. If you tried through the company’s own ISP, it worked fine. We also discovered that the ‘virus’ was part of the preloaded software our company put on every machine we built and sold.

We filed a full report on the issue…and two days later our department was visited by some large employees in dark suits, who ‘politely’ informed us we had never seen or interacted with any piece of software that behaved as a virus, had never written any report on such a piece of software, and if we told any ‘lies’ about such a thing, we would be fired for gross misconduct.

A day later the company sent out a ‘BIOS patch’ to all it’s customers that erased all evidence of the ‘virus’ we had investigated.

Thankfully, that company no longer exists.