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Man accidentally ‘deletes his entire company’ with one line of bad code

‘I feel sorry to say that your entire company is now essentially dead,’ one person on a coding forum advised Marco Marsala.

A man appears to have deleted his entire company with one mistaken piece of code.

By accidentally telling his computer to delete everything in his servers, hosting provider Marco Marsala has seemingly removed all trace of his company and the websites that he looks after for his customers.

Mr Marsala wrote on a forum for server experts called Server Fault that he was now stuck after having accidentally run destructive code on his own computers. But far from advising them how to fix it, most experts informed him that he had just accidentally deleted the data of his company and its clients, and in so doing had probably destroyed his entire company with just one line of code.

The problem command was “rm -rf”: a basic piece of code that will delete everything it is told to. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the r deletes everything within a given directory; and the f stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files.

Together, the code deleted everything on the computer, including Mr Masarla’s customers’ websites, he wrote. Mr Masarla runs a web hosting company, which looks after the servers and internet connections on which the files for websites are stored.

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Which is the worst mistake ever made?

The 12 publishing houses who turned down ‘Harry Potter’
The CEO who didn’t buy Google for $1m in 1999
France ordering $15bn worth of trains too wide for their tracks
When Decca signed the Tremeloes – instead of The Beatles
The burning of Alexandria library
Russia selling (oil-rich) Alaska to the US for £4.6m

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That piece of code is so famously destructive that it has become a joke within some computing circles.

Normally, that code would wipe out all of the specific parts of the computer that it was pointed at. But because of an error in the way it was written, the code didn’t actually specify anywhere – and so removed everything on the computer.

“I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers,” wrote Marco Marsala. “Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.”

Mr Marsala confirmed that the code had even deleted all of the backups that he had taken in case of catastrophe. Because the drives that were backing up the computers were mounted to it, the computer managed to wipe all of those, too.

“All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).”

Most users agreed that it was unlikely that Mr Marsala would be able to recover any of the data. And as a result his company was almost certainly not going to recover, either.

“You’re going out of business,” wrote Michael Hampton. “You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer.”

Many of the responses to Mr Marsala’s problem weren’t especially helpful – pointing out that he could have taken steps to stop it happening before it did.

“Well, you should have been thinking about how to protect your customers’ data before nuking them,” wrote one person calling himself Massimo. “I won’t even begin enumerating how many errors are simultaneously required in order to be able to completely erase all your servers and all your backups in a single strike.

“This is not bad luck: it’s astonishingly bad design reinforced by complete carelessness.”

Information Source : Independent.co.UK
Image Source : Google

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Surya Shankar Roy

An EC COUNCIL certified secure computer user having wide knowledge in the field of web related services, social engineering, networking, cloud computing and hardware.

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