Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tech Support Counter-scripts

So when you call in to tech support, they are reading off a script. The script walks you through the most common resolutions to people's problems ("Have you tried turning it off and then on again?"), and is entirely useless if you're at all technically competent. If you're like me, your support calls usually end up being exercises in absurdity - can I go along with the script long enough for them to become convinced that they should put me through to someone competent?

Randall Munroe had the right idea. He just didn't take it far enough. It would be really great if everybody implemented backdoors for techies, but really. If we want backdoors, we're going to have to make them ourselves.

What we should do is make a repository of tech support counter-scripts. Let's say (as in the linked xkcd) that you know exactly what the problem with your internet connection is, and you want to minimize the time it takes to convince the person on the other end of the line to just fix your problem. We could crowdsource it, and have everybody who tries the script try tweaking it on actual calls, and iterate toward the fastest way to resolve a given situation.

So here's the really cool bit. We also include some distinctive phrases in the scripts (backdoors, if you will), so that after a while the support people will catch on to what we're doing. At that point, they have a choice: they can either look up the backdoor phrase in the counter-script archive, and find out what specific problem we're trying to get them to solve; or, they could adjust their scripts to counter the counter-script.

Few people are stupid enough to choose a fight against a crowd (just ask /b/), so eventually they will add the backdoor phrases to their scripts, with the instructions that we wanted them to have in the first place. In effect, we'd be social engineering the backdoors into the support system ourselves. Pretty cool, huh? :D

1 comment:

Kiriska said...

This assumes that we're patched through to a very small group of support people who would share their information and/or pick up the call enough times to pick up a pattern. If we're patched through to a larger support center or worse, an overseas one, it would take much longer for the people at the other end to piece together what we're trying to do, if they do at all. There is, also, of course, a billion different companies to which we would potentially need to call in support for, and it's unlikely that a sizable number of customers for each company would be participating in such an exercise.

STILL, it'd be cool if it could happen.