Man accidentally ‘deletes his entire company’ with five character of code
A man accidentally deleted his entire company because of one mistaken line of code. Yes, you heard it right. According to the Independent, hosting provider Marco Marsala removed all traces of his company and the websites he manages for his customers after he accidentally told his computers to delete everything in its servers.
Marsala wrote on a forum for server experts called Server Fault, that he was stuck after mistakenly running destructive code on his own computers, which immediately went into a bit of a panic afterwards.
The command he mistakenly typed in was ‘rm -rf’. To put it simply: “rm” is short for “remove,” “r” means “this directory” and “f” means “force,” which in this context means “Do not open any dialogue boxes or trigger any warnings.” Normally the code will delete everything it is told to but because of the way it was written, no particular area was specified. Thus, it deleted everything on the servers.
In other words, this innocent-looking little five-character code actually tells the computer to delete everything, overriding all of the usual warnings that pop up when files are being deleted.
As a result of the wrong command, not only the sites got wiped off, but it also deleted all his backups because the drives that were backing up the computers were mounted to it.
‘All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too, because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script),’ he wrote.
Unfortunately for him, the other experts also couldn’t be of much help to him – basically informing him that he had possibly destroyed his whole business and was unlikely he would be able to recover any of the data.
“I feel sorry to say that your company is now essentially dead,” wrote a user called Sven. “You might have an extremely slim chance to recover from this if you turn off everything right now and hand your disks over to a reputable data recovery company.”
Another poster commented that: “You’re going out of business. You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer.”
“Well, you should have been thinking about how to protect your customers’ data before nuking them,” wrote one person calling himself Massimo. “I won’t even begin enumerating how many errors are simultaneously required in order to be able to completely erase all your servers and all your backups in a single strike.
“This is not bad luck: it’s astonishingly bad design reinforced by complete carelessness,” he added.