When I was just a budding young Computer Engineer at the age of 17, I decided to try to remove an important program from one of Oak Grove High School’s computers. My attempt to do so in Mr. Donohue’s programming class did not go unnoticed and I found myself in quite a bit of trouble. The administration was coming down on me hard. I couldn’t really figure out why, everything I did was reversible, and my intentions were only from a place of curiosity and experimentation. But they were mad. As an act of attrition, I decided to document everything I had done (every single command I’d used while I was poking around the computer) and submit this to them so they could see I did nothing wrong. This did not help my case at all.

What I was trying to do was bypass a security tool called Deep Freeze.

The idea behind Deep Freeze is simple: Deep Freeze can be used to prevent changes from being made to a computer. This is extremely useful if you are a network administrator and have hundreds of computers that a student could download a virus on.

In the event that a virus were downloaded, the computer could be restarted, and like magic the virus would be gone and the computer would be restored to its “frozen” state. So to reiterate, Deep Freeze does not allow you to make changes to the computer. Students would have to save files to network drives because anything that was saved to the computer would be completely removed when the computer was restarted. It’s a great program and it still exists today because it works.

So my goal was to use a different operating system (Linux) to see if I could get around Deep Freeze. After booting up the disc and using the command line to play around with the file system I was able to put a folder on the desktop and save it. Success!

So then my curiosity got the better of me…

“If I can add a folder to the desktop and the disk still be “frozen” ….can I use this same method to bypass the program entirely?”

So I tried to change the name of the file with all the Deep Freeze stuff in it. But it didn’t work. Deep Freeze didn’t need Windows in order to do all of its operations. So while I could add a file to the desktop, I couldn’t actually remove the program itself.

Okay, well that was a fun experiment. I shared the deets with a few friends and didn’t think much of it. Until I was sitting in Jeff Vanderheiden’s office. He didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and I knew it.

“We know what you’ve done on the computers.”
“What I’ve done?”

“We know about Deep Freeze”

Oh. Shit. Was that bad? I thought it was more like a lab experiment or something. I didn’t blow anything up, or hurt anyone.

“You’ve caused a lot of damage. It’s taken hours to fix what you messed up. They said they had to replace network equipment because of you.”

Wait, did he just say ‘damage’? I changed a folder name, WTF is this dude talking about network equipment? There’s got to be some kind of mix up here. If I weren’t a socially awkward 17 year old I might have found a more diplomatic way to say…

Do you even know what Deep Freeze does?”
“Well sure, it’s what keeps people from getting to the…” he brought his fist into his palm and clenched it, “heart of the system.”
As much as I wanted to laugh. Out loud. In his face. I kept telling myself, DO NOT LAUGH. DO NOT LAUGH. JUST BE MATURE ABOUT THIS.
I managed to keep my laughter internal.
“No.” I said taking a deep breath, “That’s not what Deep Freeze does at all.”
I wasn’t making any friends in this room.
He had no idea why I was in trouble, he just knew I was in trouble.
When Mrs. Deer and the network admin whose name escapes me…Jason maybe?
When Mrs. Deer and Maybe Jason confronted me about it, I provided them with the aforementioned documents describing every single command and every thing I did with detail.
I was then accused of distributing that document to others and they punished me for that, too!
When it was all over, I had to serve 3 weeks suspension, I wasn’t allowed to make up any tests, or any homework during that period. I was banned from every computer class and using any computer that belonged to Lamar County School District.
Everyone in school thought I did something to a deep freeze in the cafeteria.
My Computer Engineering buddies called me the Godfather.
For my senior year I was allowed to bring a laptop and use it for my class work. 
My teachers often still asked me to fix their computers.
When I got back to school, after my suspension, Mr. Donohue took me aside and told me,
“I wish you would have told me when you were doing it, I would have asked to watch you do it!”

 

 

 

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