The BGP Adventures of Phineas T. Bonxalot, Network Engineer

First Day at Work

Your fist goes thrashing about in the dark searching in vane for the buzzing banshee that is your alarm clock. After several rounds with the snooze bar, the shock of the realization that you have to start a new job this morning jars the sleep from your very being. Even though the money isn't that great, the job title of “Senior Technical Engineering Analyst Architect” has a good ring to it. A few months of toiling in the IT Department at the headquarters of chain of crappy outlet stores should be a good bullet to pad the resume before applying for that big ISP dream job.

At precisely 8 o'clock you present yourself before the HR department of “Everything for 97 Cents” dressed in your best jeans, least flashy hiking boots and cleanest Tux shirt (Tux the penguin, not the garment). and declare “Uhhh, I'm Phineas T. Bonxalot. Umm, I'm here for my first day of work.” The dreary eyed HR lady begins flipping through the stack of paperwork on her desk, peering up at you every so often to see if your still there. After several minutes her eyes seep up over the top of her glasses and in a sharp nasal and accusative voice says “I don't have any Finny-ass Bonksalot.” “B-O-N-X-A-L-O-T “ you reply reflexively. The HR lady pushes her chair sideways to another pile. “Why didn't you say so! People with X's in their name are in the special pile!” she snaps. After a few more minutes of rummaging through the special stack, she pulls out a sheet with your name written on the top in sloppy handwriting. “Now it begins...” cackles the HR hag swiveling her chair around to a big filing cabinet. As she's yanking papers from here and there and creating a new stack your eyes bounce around the office at the computer equipment – a Packard Bell sits on the hags desk, an IBM PCjr is running in the corner alongside a DEC Rainbow. Up on top of a shelf out in the open among a labyrinth of twisted pair and coaxial cables is a Linksys router, a Cabletron 10BaseT hub, and some unidentifiable blue slab that says Token Ring. Leaving the shelf is a Category-something cable in poor condition. It makes a perfect arc across the ceiling to the 4 port Netgear 10/100 hub which is hanging by it's power-cord which drops down from a missing ceiling tile. Another Cat-? cable swings across the rest of the ceiling and runs down the wall to a wall outlet that looks like it has hosted a small fire at some point. “What the hell have I gotten myself into” you think.

The HR hag spins back with a large stack of yellow, white and pink papers. On top of them are three VHS video cassettes. The hag begins a rundown of the forms you have to fill out and sign, and the “training” tapes you have to watch. You gaze at the forms as the HR hag drones on. They are all written in incomprehensible lawyer-eese. You're not sure if the stack is extra high because you made the hag check the special stack or not – but the amount of paperwork seems vindictively massive.

After six hours of filling out repetitive forms you can possibly begin to understand, and being “trained” on sexual harassment, how to work your ergonomic chair and how not to slip, trip or fall down and sue the company the hag gives you a small corner of paper. On the paper a name and a room number are written. “Mr. Forkin, Room 137.”

The door of Room 137 meets your fist in the form of two sharp knocks which cause the door to drift open a few centimeters. A weaselly voice creeps out and puts pulls you into the room by your throat “Come innnn...” You step inside and see that the voice fits the man. A half-skinny, half-fat greasy balding man with over sized glasses from a decade ago sits behind an immaculately clean desk. The only thing on it is an aging Gateway Computer Laptop and a desk placard that reads “Ira Forkin – Directory of Technology Enginnering Nework Information Network Division. Both Engineering and Network are misspelled on his placard. “He is balding but trying to cover it up with combination comb over and a toupee which is a different color than his other hair. He wears a wrinkly suit which matches the color of the parade of Superman action figures that line the shelves behind him. “Phineas T. Bonxalot here sir.” you say. “You're six hours late” the weasel says. A laugh escapes your lips for a few seconds until you realize that the weasel was not joking. “Not a good way to impress your boss on your first day Bonxalot.” squeaks the weasel.

The Network

After the shock from the first day wore off, you sit at your new desk in the corner of a large, dank, windowless basement room and ponder what to do first. You share the room with the rest of the IT underlings whose desks seem to be randomly chosen to be a disaster or a sparkling clean operating table. Cables create a maze on the floor, and hang from the ceiling tiles like cobwebs. The room is lit primarily from the glow of the monitors that seem to create privacy walls at most of the desks, and is accompanied by the seizure inducing flicker of florescent overhead bulbs that are ready to fail. Your desk is looks like the office landfill, however for once the mess is not your doing but your predecessor's whose desk you've inherited. You quickly scan the paper debris as you shovel it away in case it might actually be needed at some point in the future. You learn that your desk used to belong to Justin Notfall who seems to have quit in frustration. In the last few months he took to printing out a great deal of emails to and from his former colleagues and your new boss – CYA fashion. It appears that he felt all of his IT-mates were incompetent, except for Ira Forkin as calling him that would have been a complement of the highest magnitude.

An hour of effort into your archaeological dig reveals a keyboard which you're able to trace to a full height tower case and finally to a 19” monitor flanked by a pair of 17” monitors. The PC boots up a login screen with a Debian Linux background. The rest of the IT crew are no help at getting you any login credentials; so you root the box with a boot CD you found in the pile. After changing the root password and creating yourself an account, you cd into Justin's old home directory – Jackpot! The output of the ls command reveals network maps, diagrams, password lists, and tons of config files. The only problem is Justin has his home directory encrypted with eCryptfs but without the filename encrypted – what a tease! You install and start john the ripper cracking away at the password file in hopes of recovering the goods. As you continue to explore you discover that the humble PC is a all-in-one network management box providing NTP, DNS and AAA to the rest of the network. Nagios is running and is setup to ping a slew of IP addresses.

AAA is provided by FreeRADIUS which is sloppily set up with all of the account information and passwords in the clear – except for Justin's which is setup to use the system password file. You add yourself an account right under Justin's old one and above several names that seem to loosely correspond with some of the nameplates scattered around in the office – as well as one called iforkin whose password is “password1” The other passwords reveal that your colleagues seem to like Star Trek, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Futurama, hate this place and are very bored. After restarting the radius daemon, you are able to login to one of the IP addresses being pinged by Nagios – a Juniper router!

Using your first entry point into the network, you're able to map out everything that's alive. The backbone is very simple – three Juniper routers named R1, R2 and R3 all connected in a triangle. R1 and R2 seem to have connections to the outside world with some messy static default routes pointing traffic out. R3 has several interfaces that have IP addresses configured but nothing on the other side responds to anything. R3 is also setup to run RIP, and is configured to mutually redistribute OSPF routes into RIP and vice versa – lovely! The backbone is running OSPF with everything in the backbone area. No loopback addresses are configured. There are a few sloppy static routes on all of the routers that don't appear to be doing much.

The Network

Surprisingly, the IP addressing seems to be laid out in a rather sensible fashion. You cobble down some of the trends on a yellow sticky:

Thus the IP address assigned to R2 on the link to R3 is 10.../24 or

As you're busy exploring and mapping the details of the network Ira storms into the room. He looks angry and confused. “WHO IS MAKING SHOWS?” he blurts out. Immediately the three other people in the room stand up and point at you. Your boss follows the fingers over to your desk and begins to rant and rave about how nobody is allowed to do anything on the network without his express permission. Trying to explain that you were only looking around only seems to anger him more. “YOU BROKE THE INTERNET!” he screams louder and storms out of the room.

One of your colleagues that was so quick to point you out sheepishly wanders over to your desk after it appears to be safe. “Uh, hi. Uh, I'm Peter. Porksnotter. Uh....yeah, we're not allowed to do anything at all unless Mr. Forkin approves it. He has a terminal that gets all the accounting information from the routers. If he sees anything happen, he freaks out.” Peter goes on to explain that the Internet hasn't worked for about two weeks, so the likely hood that you broke it is pretty low. Apparently you're beloved boss is taking a lot of heat from corporate now and is getting really stressed out.

Awesome, not only do you have an idiot for a boss, but a micro-managing control freak too.

The ASN Debaucle

Stay tuned...

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