Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
Cooper's chutzpah, part 2Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Monday, 3 September 2001
By feeding the media a security threat story before the threat can be effectively gauged, security vendors have created a "cry wolf" scenario. In the case of Code Red, responsible and comprehensive reporting by the media was warranted due to the potential for widespread damage. But due to the sensationalizing of past security threats by security companies, the media could not report on potential alone, but instead had to wait until hundreds of thousands of companies were infected.
Ah, of course. I didn't realize Mr. Lathe of Heaven could change history so easily. Where should I begin?
Cooper wants you to think the media yawned at FBI NIPC's "unprecedented" press conference — when reporters actually went berserk with sensationalism. The local, national, and international press couldn't resist such a juicy story. Newspapers, radio, TV, and websites all turned their attention to the Internet's predicted "meltdown." Network World certainly didn't yawn when FBI NIPC pleaded for help!
I've got a local fishwrapper in front of me, dated 1 August, with the headline " 'Code Red' could slow Internet today." Man, you know you've got media saturation when the Amish in Iowa can read all about a coming technology armageddon. The press did not wait before reporting on Code Red. Cooper merely glosses over reality with his chutzpah.
Indeed, a story Network World published on 6 August declared Code Red a success "in spite of the widespread press coverage of the worm's danger. Eliminating it 'just didn't work, in spite of all our reporting,' Cooper pointed out." One week later, Cooper's Network World column insisted the media "had to wait" before they felt comfortable enough to report his "meltdown" predictions. Chutzpah, anyone?
And speaking of Network World ... according to a 1 August story (appropriately titled "Code Red wakes up with a whimper"), "Cooper said it would probably be well into Wednesday before the extent of any damage can be assessed properly. 'It'll take that long to do its work,' he said. 'Remember, it's starting from scratch again.' " Too bad Cooper himself didn't remember it three days before the worm woke with a whimper — on 29 July, he hysterically reiterated "my prediction that we're going to experience a 'net meltdown on the 1st or 2nd."
So there you have it. TruSecure's surgeon general created a "cry wolf" scenario by feeding the media a security threat story before he effectively gauged the threat.
Cooper changed his tune for reporters only after both of his Code Red "meltdown" predictions tanked. Now he chastises fearmongers as if he's the token computer security critic. Bah! Again, more chutzpah.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take a shower. Or at least wash my hands. Know what I mean?