How Tachyon prevented thousands of ‘bad days’ from happening in 5 minutes

Jason Keogh
Jason Keogh
Jan 22, 2019
prevention patching

Something quite interesting happened to me today. I got to prevent thousands of people from having a bad day.

It all started when I got a cryptic email from the Head of End User Operations at a multi-national company. We’ll call him “Bob” to keep this exchange anonymous.

The email read:

To: Jason Keogh

Subject: Which is the best number to call you?

Sorry for the quick email.

We are having an emergency and I need your advice.

The first thing I noticed about this was the time.

Where “Bob” is located, it was 5:17 am…six hours behind GMT. I knew it must be serious. We got on the phone immediately. Here’s what happened:

Today is Monday. On the previous Friday, the company had pushed out two updates, a set of patches, and a “consolidation” of fonts. Over the weekend, it became apparent that there was a serious problem. Bob had an issue on his own machine, one of several thousand impacted.

After the company update, his machine seemed to boot just fine. However, instead of a login screen, he just got a black one. He couldn’t log in. Rebooting machines effectively turned them into expensive paperweights.

Being of the technical mind, Bob started trying to diagnose what was going on.

He didn’t get too far (hard to get anywhere when you can’t log in). He contacted Microsoft Support (as he owns that relationship for his organization). They talked him through creating a disk image to send to them – and they went to work.

Microsoft came back over the weekend and suggested that the issue wasn’t caused by any of the patches. It was the fonts! Somehow a corrupted font meant the login screen couldn’t display.

At 5 am on Monday, Microsoft provides Bob with the steps to solve the problem. Bob also realized Tachyon could come to his rescue. Within about 5 minutes, I had created a Tachyon instruction which took the name of a font file as a parameter, then implemented the fix MS had suggested, namely:

  1. Checked to see if that file was on the machine, and if not, exited. If the file was there it continued.
  2. Check the status of the Windows Font Cache Service. If it is running, stop it. Set it to Startup Type of Disabled.
  3. Go into the Fonts area of the Registry and remove the entries for the file specified.
  4. Delete the file from %WinDir%\Fonts.

I sent Bob the update. He tested it, rebooted the test machine, and voila! Login screen. Problem solved.

By 6 am, they set up an instruction within Tachyon. All online machines were “fixed” before rebooting caused a problem.

The same instruction would be active for 24 hours and would repeat every day for 30 days. In essence, this means that any machine that wasn’t online when the first fix was pushed out would “catch-up” with this instruction as soon as the device came online. It remediates the issue in real-time before the user logs in. This will happen not just for office users on the main corporate network, but for home users, traveling reps, people working from coffee shops and airports – anywhere the endpoint has an internet connection. Tachyon reaches it.

Without Tachyon, Bob is sure that he would have had thousands of users – particularly those who were remote (a significant percentage of his workforce) – who would have been unable to log in and who perhaps would have had to physically come into an office to have the issue resolved.

This is the power of Tachyon.

Several thousand users who would have had catastrophic systems failure and would not have been able to get their work done are completely unaware they ever had a problem.  The company’s productivity is protected. Bob is breathing normally again.

Not bad for 5 minutes work.

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