*****Computer Risk Bulletin #478*****
Warning Notice M.U.D-1
On the 3rd of September, 1992 the computing world was rocked by the horror
of a new computer-originated illness and the life it claimed.
Eldred Squires, a 26 year old Operator/Administrator at major British
Chemical Company was the first victim. At approximately 9:03am, Squires
logged into his personal account, ees, and sent some email to a friend at a
remote site. Logging out, he then proceeded to log into the operator account
to clean up some problematic printing queues. Following this, he logged out
and logged into a test account to check that his print queues were accepting
data from normal users. Finding that all was well, he logged out, then logged
into the root account to create a new username to receive helpdesk mail, not
realizing the mortal danger he was in. Wanting to test this new username, he
logged out from root and proceeded to login to his new account. Barely three
letters into his twelve letter alphanumeric password, he slumped forward
across his keyboard, dead.
Investigators, on arriving at the scene could find no reason for his death
and elected to wait for further information from the outcome of the autopsy.
The Autopsy revealed that the victim's cerebral cortex suffered damage
consistant with heating of the brain to approximately 120 degrees celcius.
Still no nearer to the solution of the death, Computer and Workplace Safety
Officers decided to recreate, using accounting logs and user audits, the
circumstances leading up to the tragedy. Shielding the testing officer from
the equipment with leaded glass, the team commenced their tests. Within five
minutes, another victim lay sprawled across the keyboard, a fine patina of
sweat on their brow.
Admitting defeat, the Safety Office called in an expert in Computer Related
Deaths, Dr Brian Analpeeper. Within minutes of examining the logs and audits
Analpeeper was able to correctly diagnose the cause of death. Multiple
Multiple Username Disorders, Analpeeper explained, are a dangerous new
side-effect of the current computing mindset. People become encumbered with
several usernames until, ultimately, their brain fries out. Analpeeper also
explained that for years the Social Sciences had been aware of the existance
of Multiple Personality Disorders (commonly mis-referred to as Split Person-
alities) and that in a small way, M.U.Ds were in fact a computer replication
"People are required to maintain several accounts for various purposes, One
for say, an Administration function, one for their own personal use, another
for normal work, and perhaps yet another for financial and charging matters.
Sooner or later the combination of what is required of the user of these
accounts will wreak it's havoc on the brain, causing mass cerebric hysteria.
Of course some people have a higher tolerance to this than others, yet there
is *no* way of accurately judging how far we can push a user."
Later, in a harmless demonstration, Dr Analpeeper, took a volunteer and
assigned him 5 usernames for different purposes. Victim number 3 fell to the
floor in a lifeless heap.
"I lied about it being harmless," Analpeeper said. "So sue me."
Months later scientists are still no nearer finding a solution to the
problem, mainly because they're too scared to login to the research computers.
Life goes on, or sometimes it doesn't.
Are you in danger?
In an effort to reduce the deaths and crippling side effects of Multiple
Username Disorder, the Computer Risk Committee has compiled this list of
Should one or more of these symptoms be present, STOP USING YOUR ACCOUNT
NOW! Logout and walk away. Life is, after all, too precious..
- Wonder whether they've read their mail today
- Wonder which account they're logged into
- Complain of feeling hot and bothered in front of their terminal
- Complain that the room appears to be getting warmer
- Slur words, especially after consuming large quantities of alcohol
- Repeatedly forget passwords
- Ask to see the wine list at restaraunts for no apparent reason
- Pause for a few seconds before entering their password.
- Talk to themselves whilst logging in or executing everyday commands.
- Fail to notice everyday events, such as telephones ringing, power
failures, being struck about the head, etc.
- Fall to the floor dead.