Feline security researcher discovers new 0-Day vulnerability

Mr. Jinx, feline security researcher

Mr. Jinx, feline security researcher

We have three cats and one of them has a bad habit of leaving a little something outside the litter box.  It’s my wife’s biggest complaint about the cats.  Her second biggest complaint is the scratching.  No matter what kind of scratching post or carpeted kitty condo we buy, they always go for the stairs.  They don’t even have the courtesy to use a least-recently-scratched algorithm.  Instead they focus on 2 or 3 stairs at a time until those have exposed wood, then move on.

As you can imagine, I constantly hear about the urgent need for new carpets in the house.  Fortunately, a day or so later I hear that we can’t get new carpets until all the cats are dead so if I delay any action for a day or so, the problem solves itself.

Still…dead cats?  I can arrange that.  How’s next Tuesday look?

I’ve come to understand that I’m not supposed to call her bluff about dead cats and that any mention of the condition of the carpet is just her blowing off steam.  So now I just listen, nod and occasionally say something approaching empathetic.  The cats are all in their teens so we’ve been performing this ritual a long time and each of us knows their part like a seasoned Broadway player.

Until tonight.


Mr.Jinx was walking around dry-heaving, dry-pooping and obviously in distress.  Despite his most heroic efforts, nothing was coming out either end.  We were in the process of getting ready to take him to the emergency vet when from the next room I heard “Oh thank God!”

“What is it?” I yelled.

“Jinxy just made a giant poop on the rug!”

The juxtaposition of the obvious relief in her voice versus the literal meaning of the words overwhelmed me with cognitive dissonance and I locked up for about 10 seconds trying to reconcile the two.  It was kind of like asking Star Trek’s Commander Data to divide by zero.  I didn’t even notice her walk in.

“Hey!  Wake up!  Give me a hand over here.”

“Huh?  What?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Denial of Service attack.  I had to install a lookup table, some pointers and a new dictionary entry.  I think I’m good now.”

At which point she froze up and stared at me speechless for several seconds and I realized I’d done the same thing to her.

“Hey!  Snap out of it!”  I waved a hand in front of her face.

“You… did…,” and at this point she closed her eyes and shook her head side to side looking very confused, “… what?”

Oh crap!   This thing is worse than I thought.  Each time one of us boots up, we cause the other one to crash.  One of us had to branch back to the good code.  I grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Honey, listen to me.  This is very important.  We are going to figure out what’s up with Mr. Jinx now.  Under no circumstances will you be happy about the poop on the rug, got it?  Think negative thoughts. Just keep telling yourself ‘He could die.  He could die.  He could die.’  We’ll get through this.”

For a moment I thought I’d rebooted her again.  After a long pause she held up a cat turd so big looked like it came out of a Pit Bull and squished it between her gloved fingers, rubbing them together and feeling for things that should not be in there. Like ribbons. Or fiber. Or rubber bands.

“Nuthin’ in there but poop,” she announced happily.  “He’ll be fine.”

Wonderful.  We are no closer to replacing the rugs than we were 5 minutes ago, there’s another unpatched zero day vulnerability in my wife’s BIOS, and I will forever have the image burned into my brain of my wife’s hand squishing cat poop between her fingers.  I liked that hand.  It’s been good to me over the years.  I’m gonna miss it.

Damned cats.

About T.Rob

Computer security nerd. WebSphere MQ expert. Autist. Advocate. Author. Humanist. Text-based life form. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, G+, or LinkedIn.
This entry was posted in Aspergers, Humor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Feline security researcher discovers new 0-Day vulnerability

  1. Dave says:

    T.Rob, I believe I’m in the same boat, my friend. After 20 years of marriage, I believe I have identified several flaws in my particular unit. One of which is… As information is incoming, it seems an unusually large amount of processing power is spent parsing the input to identify ways in which she can criticize, jab, poke or otherwise raise issue with me. So much of the processor time is spent on this task, that other device interrupts are missed, causing pieces of input to be missed. This causes the unit to make irrational decisions based upon partial or corrupted data. The evidence on file for this behavior is that the unit always appears to have heard what it wants to hear and not what has actually been said.

    There is an additional issue as well. The subroutine in the BIOS that deals with A implies B but B does not necessarily imply A is broken. As in, I say to her… Why did you not put down the crab grass stuff on the lawn? The response: The guys on the garden show (radio show) said you should only fertilize in the spring and fall when there is growth. My reply to this seemingly nonsensical statement is: It’s a poison. We don’t want the grab grass to benefit from the application of the poison. We’re trying to kill it. Spread the damn stuff. The reply: The crab grass preventer is mixed in with the fertilizer. So it’s a fertilizer not a poison, and you should not spread that until the fall. Again, I make the mistake of arguing… Apparently the degreed professionals at the Scotts Lawn Care who wrote the manual and the label disagree with your conclusion. Then she just puffs… We’ll, they are just trying to sell more fertilizer. Can’t argue with that.

    Dave

  2. T.Rob says:

    Friend Dave over at LinkedIn writes “T.Rob, that is absolutely hysterical.”

    Well, that’s easy for you to say, Dave. Over the last 30 years I’ve cataloged dozens of 0-Day vulnerabilities in my wife’s BIOS and still haven’t figured out how to patch them. It’s not like she’s subject to targeted attacks but once in a while a total stranger in the mall or restaurant stumbles over one and reboots her.

    Still, I’m pretty sure her BIOS is upgradeable because in the weeks after after our wedding my pen-tests were largely successful. But over time she seems to accumulate resistance to the point that now nearly all pen-testing is blocked. I’m still diagnosing the issue but I have a theory that the wedding ceremony itself screws with the BIOS. If I’m correct, simply renewing our vows (possibly followed by a cruise) would update the BIOS resulting in an increased ratio of successful pen-tests.

    Unfortunately, the cats are so old and supposedly so emotionally fragile that she won’t let me board them long enough for a cruise. So I have to wait for them to die before I can test my theory which, unless I figure something else out, means a few more years of failed pen-tests.

    Damned cats.

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