Jan 26 2009

“Rampant worm”? Pass me the crackpipe!

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The media continues to deliver more ink, and more hysteria, over the Downadup worm. Infection estimates now range anywhere from 10-15 million, and that’s just on the low end. Basically it all boils down to what flavor of crack the reporters’ sources prefer…

“[Downadup] may have managed to compromise as many as nearly one in three” PCs on the planet…

Take UPI’s sources, for example: they obviously prefer strawberry-flavored crack. That’s why we see UPI headlines like “Virus strikes 15 million PCs.” I mean, come on — an international news outlet cited a hometown newspaper story as its primary source for high-tech news. Somebody’s gotta be puttin’ a lighter to the rock when that happens!

Or take this Networkworld source who uttered his prediction through raspberry-scented smoke rings. “‘[This worm] has the potential to infect about 30% of Windows systems online, a potential 300 to 350 million PCs,’ says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence in the counter threat unit at SecureWorks.”

And I’m guessing Computerworld‘s sources enjoy the blueberry-flavored crack. “[Downadup] has infected at least one out of every 16 PCs worldwide, a security company said today, and it may have managed to compromise as many as nearly one in three,” reads the first sentence. Who did Computerworld attribute to these figures? Why, none other than Ryan Sherstobitoff (Panda Security) — the same guy I bashed yesterday for unwittingly comparing Downadup to the villain in the movie Eagle Eye.

“I’m pretty confident in this number,” Sherstobitoff told reporter Gregg Keizer, who wrote that “in fact, Panda’s estimate is probably very conservative, Sherstobitoff said.”

SecureWorks flunky Don Jackson proclaimed Downadup “has the potential to infect about 30% of Windows systems online, a potential 300 to 350 million PCs…”

(Memo to Gregg Keizer: Notice the highlights in the previous paragraph? They actually teach you in Journalism 101 not to use “fact, estimate, probably” in the same sentence. You should take a course sometime…)

We know for a fact Keizer’s source inhales the smurf smoke — because nobody in their right mind would dare to claim this worm already “may have managed to compromise as many as nearly one in three” PCs on the planet. Even Jackson managed to hedge his bets by saying this worm only “has the potential to infect” one-third of all the PCs on mothership earth.

As of 6pm tonight, the websites for McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro, Kaspersky Labs, Sophos, SANS, ISS, et al. still display a blasé attitude about the Downadup worm. Who in their right mind can predict “potential[ly] 300 to 350 million” infections with no support from the big boys in the industry?

To paraphrase comedian Lewis Black: “What this is, purely and simply, is a clinical psychotic reaction. They are stone cold nuts. I can’t be kind about this — because these people are watching this episode of “Fringe” as if it’s a documentary…”

Let’s face it: you gotta be smoking Frank Herbert’s “Dune spice” to come up with the bizarre graphics attached to all these stories. Check out the Fremen-inspired graphic in a dbTechno story, for example. Listen closely and you’ll hear them calling for Shai-Hulud after each toke.

Did you like the movie “Tremors”? Check out the UZI4U-inspired graphic at TheTechHerald.com. Looking for something a little more family friendly? You’ll love the Y7-inspired graphic at PCWorld France.

Do you like the Food Channel? Check out the Zimmern-inspired graphic at the Wall Street Journal

{sigh} Let me put it in simple terms, folks. The media loves computer security hysteria: it breaks up the monotony of their day. And the wild “expert” sources certainly love the media attention.

Seriously: take a moment to peruse Wikipedia’s article on yellow journalism. Do the “five characteristics” seem vaguely familiar?

  • By xfmrhsdNo Gravatar, 8 February 2009 @ 1:29 am

    WHAT??? Fringe ISN’T a documentary!?? I will STOP WATCHING right away so I won’t be infected by its obvous attempt to entertain me….

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