And is that new sweater on our approved list?

Info security pilot fish gets a call from a friend on the help desk with a request that's not exactly the sort of thing he'd want to file as a trouble ticket.

"Barney asked if we would help play a gag on someone who was joining their team shortly from another department," says fish. "He told us she had just bought a new mouse for her laptop and was quite pleased with it."

That's enough for fish, who opens his instant messaging client and sends a message to the soon-to-join-the-help-desk user: Hi, I work in information security. One of our reports has highlighted the use of illegal non-company-approved equipment on your machine. Can you confirm that you are only using standard company equipment, please? We've raised this as a security incident so before we escalate, please confirm. Thanks.

User: Hello, I'm using a different mouse but was told by IT this was OK.

Fish: Who in IT told you this? It's just that the alarms were sounded on the security systems and it was quite loud.

User: Oh, sorry, I didn't realize. I'll change it.

Fish: You aren't the first person to do this. People don't realize the implications. What manufacturer and what color is the mouse? Was it someone on the help desk that told you that you could use it?

User: Yeah, the help desk. It's a purple Microsoft mouse.

Fish: They are the worst. We only authorize white ones. Was it Barney that said you could use it? He's always doing this.

User: So the color makes a difference. Sorry, I didn't think it would be a big deal using a new mouse.

Fish: The purple ones are more vulnerable.

User: OK, well, I'll get rid of it since it's a problem.

Fish: The only way it could get any worse was if you told me it was wireless. It's not, is it?

User: Yes! Right, it's done, OK? Gone.

Fish: My line manager asked me to pass on one more message. Do you know what ROFL means?

User: Yes?

Fish: That's what Barney is doing. He put us up to this. And please don't throw the mouse away. We can always paint it.

Santa didn't bring Sharky any stories, so I'm counting on you. Send me your true tales of IT life at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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