Author: Guy Lingham

My job as a chaos machinist is simple: I inject failure. I’m unleashed upon a system to disrupt its dependencies and tease out its vulnerabilities. It’s all about building resiliency. Chaos exists everywhere, in everything, so better to break and fix things now, before they’re broken for you.

The practice used to involve killing a few clusters or upping the latency to test how well you’ve built your servers. These days, since the advent of global hyper-simulations, my job has become far more interesting. We’re no longer restricted to scaling tests and database failovers for creating chaos; now, the world is our sandbox.

The company paid me well to do my job, as they should have—I’m very good at it. Simulations emulate reality near-perfectly; this is by design, as there’s little point in testing anything that doesn’t. Though this makes a job like mine all the more challenging, it’s allowed me to develop a unique set of skills. If, for example, I was tasked with testing the security of a restricted zone—a contract I received all too often—I couldn’t just drop in, kitted to the teeth with fancy gadgets, and call it a day. That’s only testing the final layer, which, frankly, would be useless. What we need to test is the full journey.

Once plugged in, I would wake up in a random location with nothing but the clothes on my back and a pocketful of cash. The first step of any experiment—that’s what we call testing in the biz—is to gather resources. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know where to buy gear and weaponry that’s cheap and untraceable. Give me a week and I can get you anything. Tranq darts? Easy. EMPs? Done. Antimatter bombs? I happen to have a stockpile already, but I’m saving those for something special.

Next, I’d need to reach my destination unseen. I rarely have to think about this part anymore, it’s practically second nature. Nasty in-and-out facial surgery is scarily easy to come by these days. A quick trip to some backstreet clinic and a visit to the forgers next door would yield me an identity that would last long enough. Finally, it’s simply a matter of sneaking in, placing the charges (if applicable), and getting out. Then, I unplug, wait a month for them to implement fixes, and try again.

The company sent me on countless experiments, even choosing me as the machinist to test their own premises, entrusting me to breach their defences and topple their towers. Like I said, I’m good at my job. I could have done such great things for the company, if only they weren’t so shortsighted. See, they weren’t ambitious enough. As good as the simulations are, a test is never truly worthwhile until it’s executed in prod—the live environment.

They didn’t trust me. They called me mad, mad for wanting to build their resilience, mad for wanting to do my job. Do they not realise that chaos is in everything? In everyone? They’re lucky I’m so forgiving. Even if they won’t take their security seriously, I will.

Soon, they’ll be sorry they got rid of me. Soon, they’ll realise just how good at my job I really am.