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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

As read by the author

Cyberterror to hit in 2003

As read by the author Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Wednesday, 1 January 2003

[continued from our humorous new year's eve bash] HANGOVER? CHECK. TYLENOL? Check. Mouthwash? Check. Trashed house? Check. Sunshine pouring in through the west windows? Check. Nobody still trapped in the laundry chute? Check.

Today I can finally say "cyber-terrorists will deliver a crushing blow to the Internet this year." There, I said it.
Welcome to the new year. The doctor in the emergency room uttered my favorite line of the evening. He looked at Tommy's X-ray and said "yep, that's a champagne cork all right!" (Tommy deserved it.) Not often does one cork get to pop twice if know what I mean. I cannot believe I actually scheduled myself to publish a column today. On computer virus hysteria, no less. I scheduled a column for 1/1/03 just so I can finally say "cyber-terrorists will deliver a crushing blow to the Internet this year." There, I said it. Quite frankly, the death of computing can't come soon enough for us at Vmyths. We rang in the year "2K3" with much hoopla for this reason alone. I feel confident about the threat of cyber-terrorism this year thanks to a prediction made by John Gantz, the chief research officer for a company called IDC. Gantz' website boasts "at IDC, we analyze the future!" The same webpage also admits "we are a division of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company." I tell you, Gantz' firm positively reeks. with experts who know every facet of Al Qaeda's high-profile plans to destroy the Internet. (Ignore the extra period in the last sentence. My Tylenol didn't kick in yet.) News.com staff writer Ed Frauenheim covered Gantz' predictions with the headline "cyberterror to hit in 2003." The story leaps out at you in true "the end is nigh!" fashion:
A major cyberterrorism event will occur in 2003, a technology research group predicted on Thursday, one that will disrupt the economy and bring the Internet to its knees for at least a day or two. The event could take the form of a denial of service attack, a network intrusion or even a physical attack on key network assets, said John Gantz, chief research officer of IDC. Gantz spoke during a teleconference in which the research company laid out its annual forecast of technology developments in the coming year. "The war with Iraq will galvanize hackers," Gantz said.
"IDC's list of 10 predictions included sunnier projections, too," Frauenheim went on to say. He spent the rest of his story looking at the bright side of life and never returned to the topic of his headline. Shame on him! {sniff} I smell a cub reporter who can't stay on track.
Don't let the castrated version of Ed Frauen­heim's story lull you into compla­cency! Cyber-terrorism will occur in 2003. There, I said it.

ACTUALLY, FRAUENHEIM ONLY "breathlessly" reported Gantz' cyber-terror prediction until I fired off a letter to him. A terse letter, I might add. Very terse. Three words and a URL, to be precise. Somebody on the News.com staff quickly rearranged the prose, changed the headline to "cyberterror and other prophesies," and added the following sentence:
But security experts and other [sic] have said that — so far — the threat has been overblown and misunderstood, and that physical attacks remain far easier to carry out.
Overblown "so far," it now says. I guess I can't call it "breathless" anymore unless I limit myself to the many pirated original versions of Frauenheim's story circulating in the computer security community. (Memo to News.com: please don't get mad at the computer security industrial complex for violating your copyrights. I'll admit the experts do it because they want to save money, but piracy really does improve the safety of the Internet in the long run. Give yourselves a pat on the back for contributing to the Great Cause.) But don't let the castrated version of Frauenheim's story lull you into complacency! Cyber-terrorism will occur in 2003. So says Gantz and I believe him. There, I said it. We at Vmyths want to see the Internet writhe in agony. We really do. It deserves to writhe even more than Tommy did last night. If an orderly hadn't taken the champagne cork away from me, I'd shove it so far up the Internet that it'd pop a third time... [Credit where due: News.com didn't care for the original version of Frauenheim's headline, so we took it as our own.]