The Virus Of Ignorance

, , , | Working | January 5, 2018

(One night, I get home from work and have no Internet. I am a technician myself, so I check all the usual suspects, reboot both modem and router, check both machines on the network, double check wiring, and nothing seems to be bringing it back up. So, I call tech support.)

Me: “My Internet is down, and I can’t figure out why. I’ve checked all my connections, rebooted all machines and the modem and router, and I’m getting nowhere. Is there a known outage in my area?”

Technician: “The number you’re calling from isn’t on file. Can you call back with the number we have registered?”

Me: “No, I can’t. The number you have registered is [Internet phone service], so voice over IP.”

Technician: “You should always be calling from the number we have registered.”

Me: “But it’s voice over IP – Internet-based phone service. If I have no Internet, I can’t use that line. I didn’t register this number, because I normally reserve my cell only for emergencies, and don’t want surveys or sales calls coming to my cell.”

Technician: “Oh, we don’t use it for that.”

Me: “Yes, you do. I get sales calls routinely on my registered line. But that’s not the point. The point is that I have no Internet. Is there an outage in my area?”

Technician: “Nope, no outages in your area. If you call back with the registered number, we can pull up your account and see if there’s a problem there.”

Me: *deep sigh* “Is there another way to pull up my account?”

(He very begrudgingly asks for some information to look up the account, which I provide.)

Technician: “Oh, your computer has a virus. You’ll have to download our virus software and fix it before we can let you back online. We’ve been emailing you for days, and have finally shut off your service until you get it fixed.”

Me: “I never received an email.”

Technician: “We sent it to your [Website #1] email.”

Me: “Ah, that [Website #1] email, that should be obvious that I never use, and therefore never check. Why didn’t you also send it to my [Website #2] account? My bill notifications go there, so clearly you have it.”

Technician: “I can’t answer that, ma’am.”

Me: *pauses for a moment* “Okay, setting aside for the moment that it is going to be kind of difficult to download anything without Internet, why have you assumed I have a virus?”

Technician: “It says here that you do, ma’am.”

Me: “Do you have anymore information than just that?”

Technician: “Yeah, but it’s technical.”

Me: *rolls eyes* “Try me.”

Technician: “Your computer is constantly asking for an address. This means it has a virus.”

Me: *face-palm* “You’re receiving repeated DHCP requests, then? Did you remember that I said that I rebooted both the modem and my router?”

Technician: “I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

Me: “When you use a router, the computers behind it don’t get their addresses from your servers, they get them from the router. The only device on my home network that would be asking for a DHCP address directly from your server would be the router, which means I don’t have a virus. It means my router isn’t working properly.”

Technician: “I don’t think that’s how it works.”

Me: “I went to college for networking. That is how it works. I’ll tell you what. I’ll remove the router from the network and plug one of my machines into the modem directly. You reinstate my service, and I will order a new router. I guarantee you that will solve the problem. If you’re getting excessive DHCP requests again, shut me down again, but I’m sure that’s the problem.”

Technician: “But you have a virus!”

Me: “No, I don’t. Not only is that not what the symptoms are telling me, but all my computers have aggressive virus protection that’s updated and run frequently, so it would be very unlikely. Give me an hour. If I’m right, you’ll get one DHCP request and that’s it. If I’m wrong, you’ll get the repeated requests, and you can shut me down again. But I’m not wrong.”

(The technician grumbled a bit more, and then did as I asked. I had unplugged the router while I was talking to him, and I finished rewiring after I hung up. I ordered a new router, and miraculously, my “virus” problem went away.)

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