Every year Popular Science magazine publishes The Worst Jobs in Science, a "bottom-10 list" saluting the "men and women who do what no salary can adequately reward."
Published in the June issue, the 2007 list had its share of groan-inducing jobs, including Whale-Feces Researcher, a title that really should defy commentary, but I will say that a good day involves crying, "Brown stain ahoy!" Other workers with unenviable jobs include Olympic Drug Testers, who watch jocks urinate into cups about 4,000 times in 21 days, Garbologists, whose job requires them to pick through trash cans, landfills and other refuse receptacles in order to analyze modern consumption patterns, and Gravity Research Subjects, though the fact that they rake in some serious cash for their troubles might offset the horror of lying still for weeks on end.
But hovering squarely between Coursework Carcass Preparer and Gravity Research Subject, at No. 6, is none other than a Microsoft Security Grunt.
Described as "wearing a big sign that reads 'Hack Me,'" employees at the Microsoft Security Response Center receive approximately 100,000 e-mails a year, warning them of security lapses.
"It's tedious work. Each product can have multiple versions in multiple languages, and each needs its own repairs (by one estimate, Explorer alone has 300 different configurations). Plus, to most hackers, crippling Microsoft is the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star, so the assault is relentless," says Popular Science.
The article recounts research from the SANS Institute, a security research group, which indicates that Microsoft products are among the top five targets of online attacks, and notes that Microsoft security is on ever-shakier ground as CIOs lose faith in Windows platforms.
Still, Microsoft security pros shouldn't feel too bad; they're still five notches ahead of Hazmat Divers who swim in sewage for a living.
Sayeth one anonymous pundit: "Give 'em time..."