Dealing with Difficult Users Page 4

Deb Shinder

Harry Hacker

Harry is probably the most notorious of our problem user types. This category can actually be broken down into several "sub-Harries." If he's the genuine article, Harry Hacker probably knows a lot more about computers and networking than you do. Looking at it from his point of view, it's either a little annoying or a little amusing to him that you're making rules and telling him what he can and can't do with his computer.

From your point of view, Harry has the power to really wreak havoc on your network. Coming on strong and making an enemy of Harry may not be the smartest thing to do. You don't have to like him, but you'd best respect his abilities. Depending on his personality, the best tactic may be assimilation - that is, take him into the fold. Let him know you admire his skills. Ask his advice on how to secure the network against those other, irresponsible users. Of course, if Harry is a destructive type and can't be turned into an ally, your only option may be reporting his transgressions to his superiors. Before you choose that road, make sure you have everything important backed up, and expect retaliation. Hell hath no fury like a hacker scorned.

Luckily, there are far more "pseudo-Harries" out there than the real thing. Hacker Wannabes who know just enough to be dangerous. With these folks, tightening up your security is the first step. If you can, enlist a genuine Harry to help you thwart their experimentations.

A good auditing/monitoring program will alert you to the presence of a Harry in your organization. Another plus is that the wannabes, especially, usually like to brag about their awesome hacking skills.

In general, Harry likes to keep a low profile and stay out of your way. You'll have to ferret him out. This is in direct contrast to our next "problem child, Demanding Demetrius.

This article was originally published on Sep 18, 2000

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