Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
Kournikova cornucopiaRob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 13 February 2001 A REUTERS NEWSWIRE offered some crucial facts about the Kournikova virus: "Moscow-born [Anna] Kournikova, 19, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated on June 5. Someone on one website is asking $50 for copies of that much-read issue. Kournikova, who has never won a WTA title, recently was defeated by Amelie Mauresmo at the Paris Open indoor tennis tournament." Please make sure your computer security team knows this essential information about the virus...
These new virus maps don't lend themselves to fearmongering. Can we go back to the days when we didn't care about metrics?Central Command added a little irony to their Kournikova email alert. It starts off with their motto: "Without us, there's no defense." Then it describes a special file customers can download to rid themselves of the virus. Think about it for a moment... From an Associated Press newswire: " 'Everybody and their brother and sister in law (are) infected with this thing,' said David Perry, director of public education at Trend Micro Inc. 'Last year, everybody wanted to be loved. Apparently many people want to see a JPEG (picture) of Anna Kournikova.' " Some trivia: Perry actually prefers the title "Public Education Director." He wants to avoid the acronym formed by "Director Of Public Education"... We at Vmyths.com do our investigative journalism the old-fashioned way. I visited Trend's website and studied their "real-time virus tracking map." I just wanted to gauge the spread of Kournikova. But guess what? It didn't appear on their 'Top 10' map in the last 24 hours. Go figure. I checked worldwide (naturally), North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. No sign of VBS_Kalamar.A (as they call it). Hmmm. I don't always read maps correctly, so I'll take the
IN OTHER NEWS, Vincent Weafer (Symantec) gave the Associated Press an intriguing quote about Kournikova's success: " 'Close to Valentine's Day, anything novel or different like this will get people's attention more than normal,' he said. 'They are expecting messages from friends, maybe pictures of each other or cards. People lower their guards.' "
Pompous experts make it sound like they always knew about a "Valentine's Day stupidity threat." Bah. They pulled a tradition out of thin air.Time for a philosophical question. When did experts first start associating virus stupidity with Valentine's Day? Answer: just this month. Now, I pick on Weafer only because — well, because he owes me an email from last year. (He never calls, he never writes...) But I could easily pick on other virus experts for pulling a Valentine's Day tradition out of thin air. They make it sound like they knew the "VD threat" all along. Bah. You can pick on your own experts, too. If your corporate virus fighter claims "Valentine's Day has always been a stupid-user threat," ask to see something empirical to back it up. ...And in other news, McAfee declared they "first discovered the [Kournikova] virus in August of 2000 and McAfee.com Clinic already detects and protects against it." August, you say? Of last year? McAfee's claim puts their competitors a half-year behind the power curve. Actually, their PR wonks spoke without understanding. The key to understanding lies in the fact Kournikova sprang from a virus creation toolkit. (One of many, I regret to say.) McAfee's software merely detects what the toolkit creates. Logically, then, we can proclaim — drumroll, please! — McAfee knew how to detect Kournikova before it existed. "Whoa, Rob! It implies antivirus software doesn't need 365+ updates per year." Correct.
[continued in part 2]