Documented frustration

Sept. 18, 2020

One of my favorite Twitter follows is @BlackRoomSec. The account is operated by a hacker named Tara who is the director of information technology and chief information security officer at a New York City law firm. She’s also the proprietor of Black Room Security. She’s a favorite of mine for several reasons, not the least of which is her humorous and engaging writing style. While that style made me a fan, some of Tara’s recent Tweets offer insight into and IT director’s perspective on cabling and the network’s layer one.

Here’s a direct quote from late July: “I had asked for an updated floor plan for my office so I could overlay a data jack > patch panel map over it and the contractor just emailed it to me. This is going to be an epic week.”

That about sums it up, and it’s a situation that I’m sure is familiar to many. What the IT director thought would be a pretty straightforward task became significantly more labor-intensive, presumably because a number of moves/adds/changes had not been documented. I could, and maybe should, get on a soapbox and say this case is an example of why it is so important to document all MACs. I could say that I knew things would go badly when the IT director had to ask the contractor for a copy of the floor plan because there was no current, updated plan on site. And I could pound my fist on the desk and that could be the end of it.

But that wasn’t my immediate thought when I read the Tweet. Rather, it occurred to me that this woman who is responsible for securing a law firm’s information—which undoubtedly is of utmost confidentiality and sensitivity—would be spending a good portion of her workweek sorting out the Point-A-to-Point-B maps for jacks and patch panels. I said to myself, “She has more important things to worry about.” And she certainly does. But I guess I’m going to approach that soapbox after all and say that maintenance of the network’s layer one is one of those things to worry about. It doesn’t compare to combating the threat of hackers taking over an organization’s data, like what recently happened to Garmin. But it has to be part of the picture and part of the ongoing plan.

Another of @BlackRoomSec’s Tweets gave me a chuckle, and maybe it’ll give you one too. “Just got off the phone with business ISP who informs me that the major outage of all day is due to broken fiber lines and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ starting at my phone. Then I was like, “Half are underground. How in God’s name did this happen?” That Tweet was soon followed by, “I learned two new terms today: Backhoe fade. Backhoe attenuation.” Restoring a fiber cut in New York City is a major, time-consuming undertaking. It’s even more time-consuming if the fibers aren’t properly documented. Just sayin’.

About the Author

Patrick McLaughlin | Chief Editor

Patrick McLaughlin, chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance, has covered the cabling industry for more than 20 years. He has authored hundreds of articles on technical and business topics related to the specification, design, installation, and management of information communications technology systems. McLaughlin has presented at live in-person and online events, and he has spearheaded cablinginstall.com's webcast seminar programs for 15 years.

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