Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
A trick question: exactly what records did ILoveYou break?
Tuesday, 23 May 2000
ICSA BIGWIG PETER Tippett flew to Washington soon after ILoveYou
destroyed the Internet.
He told a congressional subcommittee "it took
less than four hours for this to become the most destructive computer virus ever." His
written testimony called it "by
far the most expensive, pervasive and damaging virus in history."
U.S. House Technology Subcommittee chairwoman Constance A. Morella offered specifics in
her testimony. "Roughly
47 million people received the [ILoveYou] e-mail worldwide and the virus looked for love in all the
wrong places in over 10 million computers. Since its insidious inception in the Philippines, the Love Bug has
already proved to be the fastest spreading and most expensive computer virus in history — dwarfing the cost of the
Wow! Somebody notify Guinness.
Hey, I'm serious here. Notify them. I can't wait for ICSA to put this baby in the Guinness Book of world
As you know, every "new record" undergoes an evaluation before it can replace a current record holder in
the Guinness book. Record breakers must use metrics and must meet verification standards. No metrics, no
verification, no Guinness record.
When someone or something "breaks" a record, Guinness can describe the previous and current record
with precision. Which brings me to my point — exactly what records did ILoveYou break?
What were the exact previous records — and what are the
exact new records?
Don't bother trying to come up with an answer. I asked a trick question.
We can't come to a general consensus about Melissa's wrath last year. Nor can we agree on the amount of
damage Chernobyl inflicted last year. Even
respected experts like Tippett can only offer guesstimates which fluctuate wildly depending on who you ask. You
want a general consensus about ILoveYou's wrath? Forget it. This baby will join
its brothers in the
U.S. House Technology Subcommittee chairwoman Constance A. Morella called ILoveYou "the fastest
spreading and most expensive computer virus in history, dwarfing the cost of the Melissa virus."
Exactly what records did ILoveYou break? What were the exact
previous records — and what are the exact
of history as one more massive, unverified urban legend.
A legend created by the experts themselves, no less. They'll spout all sorts of authoritative BS
to anyone who will listen. "The ILoveYou worm/virus traveled u times faster than Melissa
and generated v times as many emails. It infected x times as many computers as Chernobyl and
caused y times more damage worldwide."
Go on, tell it to Guinness. And tell 'em I sent you.
"But Rob," you moan, "if you can't prove it incorrect, why can't we just treat it as
correct?" I don't know about you, but I just happen to like the Guinness method of verifying records. Metrics and evidence appeal to me for some strange reason.
ILoveYou will join its brothers in the
of history as one more massive, unverified urban legend. A legend created by the experts
themselves, no less.