Happy Holidays – and big thanks to everyone who’s working today!

Lots of us have the day off today, but there are plenty of people who don’t, including a veritable army of IT techies, helpdesk staff, sysadmins…

…and if you’ve ever been on IT duty over the Christmas period, you’ll know what a tricky time it can be.

If all goes well, and some years it does, you end up having a quiet and peaceful time of it, and you say to yourself, “That wasn’t so bad. I might just put myself forward for next year, too.”

But you can only relax with hindsight, meaning that you can’t really relax at all while you’re on duty.

If something goes wrong, you have to spot it, investigate, make a plan, and fix it – sometimes all on your own.

If you fix it, you’re merely doing your job, so you won’t get any special thanks just because it’s Christmas – remember, most people are off work so they probably won’t even notice.

But if you don’t manage to fix it, well, that’s a different story!

Most people are off work, don’t forget, so they’re relying on you more than ever, and they probably will notice, and once they’ve noticed, they’ll feel very strongly about the matter, and they’ll be sure to tell you.

So, if you’re on duty right now, we know you’re supposed to keep focused.

You’re not supposed to distract yourself with not-strictly-relevant-to-work pastimes such as playing online games, watching cat videos or wrapping unsuspecting colleague’s desks in silver foil as a New Year’s joke.

But you can use your “waiting for bad things to happen” time for work-related personal development.

So, we’ve picked our favourite Serious Security and Anatomy of… technical articles of recent years, in the hope you’ll enjoy perusing them…

…or at least find them useful to keep pre-opened in “emergency browser tabs” that can hurriedly be brought to the foreground used as important reference texts if needed.


Serious Security: What 2000 years of cryptography can teach us


Serious Security: GPS week rollover and the other sort of “zero day”


Anatomy of a pseudorandom number generator – visualising Cryptocat’s buggy PRNG