Memory-Lane Monday: As it was, no encryption was needed

You have to admit, this was better than finding out the hard way.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

Sysadmin pilot fish is checking out encryption for his company’s backups.

“We have a mainframe that runs our core system,” explains fish. “Each night we back up to an on-site tape and then make a copy of the tape to go off-site. Couriers shuttle the tape back and forth between the sites each day.”

The obvious place to apply encryption is to those off-site tapes, so fish decides to create an encrypted copy of a tape to show how well the process works.

And the encryption process works fine every time. But when fish tries to decrypt the tape, no data comes out.

After fish spends several weeks experimenting, talking to vendors and growing more and more frustrated, one of his co-workers asks whether he has checked the script that generates the copy of the tape.

That seems unlikely to be the problem — the same script has been used for years — but fish checks the code anyway.

Turns out that, a few years before, the company swapped out the tape drives for newer models — but the script was never updated.

Sighs fish, “For the last several years, our off-site copy was never made. We had couriers shuttling a blank tape back and forth to the sites, as well as a replacement schedule in place for a tape that never had any data on it.

“I fixed the script, and now the off-site tape is checked regularly.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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