Monday, February 04, 2008

Hacker foxes

Recently I've become involved with the design of the control electronics for a device that speeds up the process of turning food waste into compost - let it not be said that my life is entirely dull and uninteresting - but before I arrived on the scene a previous incarnation of this hardware managed to fail (a fuse blew and stopped a heater from working) and instead of turning garbage into compost, it then did a very good job of turning garbage into flies. Lots of flies. Lots and lots of flies...

Since this particular machine was sited in the grounds of a hospital this wasn't seen by everyone as an entirely good thing, and eventually the fact that the hospital was overrun with flies came to the attention of the health and safety people who then lept into action to find some way to assign the blame. Eventually a report emerged, which amongst other things suggested the cause of the failure could possibly be hackers. Or foxes. Or (presumably) hacker foxes.

Now, foxes aren't usually noted for their hacking skills, so it rather surprises me that they could manage to hack their way into the software on this machine, which doesn't have any connection to the outside world at all. There's very little software, and it's not changeable. There's no network interface. There's no serial port. There's no keyboard. There are a couple of buttons, but press them as much as you like and you won't find a way to blow the heater fuse... So beware the hacker fox, 'ees a clever bugger...

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