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I don't understand a phrase (use some triage with sth) in this sentence--"He knew the system administrators would notice his attack and deny him access so he quickly used some triage with the exploited machines in order to find out where to install a persistent backdoor."

First, I'm not sure whether it is a phrase or not since I didn't find the meaning of the phrase online. I have tried to understand this part in these ways:

  1. I just delete "triage with"in the sentence. This sentence becomes like this: "He knew the system administrators would notice his attack and deny him access so he quickly used some the exploited machines in order to find out where to install a persistent backdoor." I'm not sure if ignoring two words would distort the original intention of the sentence.

  2. Does it mean to use some triage and the exploited machines together? This sentence would become like this: "He knew the system administrators would notice his attack and deny him access so he quickly used some triage and the exploited machines together in order to find out where to install a persistent backdoor"

  3. I typed "use with" into a dictionary. The dictionary shows that the meaning of "use with" is "use sth in (some/a way)." This further confuses me. How could the exploited machines become a way to use some triage?

Moreover, I'm not sure which meaning of the word "triage" should be used in this sentence. 1.'the action of sorting items'. Does it mean "categorize"? or 2. 'the process of determining the most important people or things from amongst a large number that requires attention.' Does it mean "prioritize"?

Many thanks,

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    The original sentence uses "triage" in a semantically nonstandard way, but it's syntactically correct. When you deleted "triage with," you left the sentence in a syntactically incorrect state.
    – shoover
    Aug 6, 2020 at 18:50
  • If you're going to remove triage with, you should also remove some. In other words: … he quickly used the exploited machines … Alternatively, you might understand it better if you replaced used some triage with did some triage. Aug 6, 2020 at 18:57
  • When time is short, you quickly decide what is most important to do (triage). Aug 6, 2020 at 19:18
  • I suggest you'd get more help in SE Writing, and whoever wrote that passage would have benefited from SE Writing, SE English Language Learning and some kind of Hacking 101. IMHO both Jason's and Yosef's explanations are fine, grammatically, yet both stretch any question of idiom beyond any sort of reality. Aug 6, 2020 at 19:30
  • “Triage with” is unidiomatic.
    – Xanne
    Aug 6, 2020 at 21:06

2 Answers 2

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At first I felt the word had been misused, but looking at the etymology:

1727, "action of assorting according to quality," from French triage "a picking out, sorting" (14c.), from Old French trier "to pick, cull" (see try (v.)). There seems to be some influence from or convergence with Latin tria "three" (as in triage for "coffee beans of the third or lowest quality"). In World War I, adopted for the sorting of wounded soldiers into groups according to the severity of their injuries, from French use.

So the guy presumably "culled" the unlikely candidates, then picked one that seemed pretty good for his "back door".

Some confusion arises from the use of "triage" in medicine where patients are divided into three categories in an emergency situation: Those who are too seriously ill/injured to be worth treating (and hence will be put off til last), those who can benefit from immediate attention, and those who can wait to be treated.

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The author is making analogy to an emergency situation; quickly sorting through a collection to maximize gain in a small window of time. There is a sense of urgency.

This word is typically used in a medical emergency where life is on the line, such as an emergency room, and war. For example, in an armed conflict, let's say a helicopter flies in with a group of injured soldiers. The medics must quickly sort through the wounded, and decide the best course of action based on available resources and time. One soldier's life can be saved with a 10-minute stitching job; another has an injured leg which could be saved with a three-hour surgery, but then a third soldier would another would die. They choose amputation on the second, allowing them time to save the third's life.

In the same way, in your example, when the attacker cracked the systems, he had a small window of time to sort through them, and do as much as possible before discovered; how can his time be best utilized? A quick check reveals a system with a default r00t password: quickly set up another account with admin rights. One system might be behind an additional firewall; too much work to get through. A another system has a list of passwords in a .txt file--grab it for later use, etc.

Similarly stated as follows:

He knew the system administrators would notice his attack and deny him access so he quickly assessed the exploited machines in order to find out where to install a persistent backdoor

imo, the word triage kinda works here; I like it.

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