Shooting the Messenger

My most educated readers will immediately recognize that passage:

Yet the first bringer of vnwelcome Newes
Hath but a loosing Office: and his Tongue,
Sounds euer after as a sullen Bell
Remembred, knolling a departing Friend

Rightio, Henry IV by William Shakespeare.

So what has this to do with Gopal Gupta, one of the many Deans at Bond University I had the opportunity to ... experience in the last years? No, it is not the physical resemblance, thanks for thinking along.

It has to do with a UNIX server, codenamed shell, which was used in the department for teaching purposes. For this reason I owned a sudo account on the box to manage the software I needed for a System Administration and Security course. I also managed a Zope instance for content management for another course.

One day a student (yes, one in the SysAdmin course) alerted me to the fact that several user accounts on that machine are world readable, one of which - and he smiled wickedly - was the Dean's account. Since I never trust what students tell me, I checked that claim, and indeed, Gopal obviously kept all his confidential documents and his email there. Not good. Not good at all.

So I wrote an email to all to secure their accounts if they had something to hide. Also and especially if they happen to be Deans and have their email there.

Now what would a reasonable, informed and intelligent Dean do?

  • Secure his account?
  • Move his stuff elsewhere?
  • Maybe being embarrassed about his amateurish behaviour?

Well, I probably will never learn what a reasonable, informed and intelligent Dean would do. Like in Henry IV Gopal decided to shoot the messenger: He would withdraw my sudo privileges.

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