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Memory-Lane Monday: A patch in time …


This big international airport has a huge computerized central control system that’s maintained by an on-site field engineer — with help from the vendor half a world away.

“The software engineers relied heavily on the knowledge and expertise of the field engineer to install our software on the running system,” says a support pilot fish working for the vendor.

One day, the field engineer calls the vendor to say that the system’s BitBus device — which relays data between a network of sensors and the central control server — has a bug in its software.

According to the engineer, the BitBus device runs fine for a day or two. But then it begins “jabbering” — spewing corrupted messages onto the network — and has to be reset.

And since the device is the only way for the central control system to listen to thousands of sensors and to control remote devices, that’s very bad news.

Worse still, the malfunction makes no sense. “Other than having added some new hardware devices to its inventory, the BitBus software had been stable for quite some time, so its recent misbehavior was a mystery,” fish says.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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