Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
''Iraq will destroy us by computer,'' the experts screamed (part 4)Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Monday, 19 May 2003
"IRAQ WILL CRIPPLE the U.S. with cyber-attacks," the fearmongers warned. I tell you, everyone got into the act — from Congress to the FBI to former CIA officials to computer security salesmen.
Even a fire-breathing Muslim cleric living the high life in Britain got into the act. Even a delusional narcissistic hacker living in the slums of Kuala Lumpur got into the act. I tell you, everyone screamed about the coming cybergeddon.
Hmph. Wusses. All of them.
I mean, c'mon! How much effort does it take to open a digital can of whoop-ass on the United States? From what I hear, even a 14yr-old Iraqi nomad can remotely shut down our national power grid and remotely pollute our vital toilet water supplies.
Let's review what the "experts" said as they pounded the drums of cyber-war.
Part 4: save the best for last
The single best example of over-the-top hysteria comes to us from Zeid Nasser in a late-January opinion piece published by The Star in Jordan and carried by the Associated Press. Read it and weep, folks:
What could happen, digitally, if war breaks out? First, hackers will attempt the usual 'flooding' attacks on US sites, which could result in a denial-of-service situation that breaks down the site. Then, the hacking activity will evolve to cause more 'moral' damage by which the contents of sites are altered, displaying messages written by the hackers highlighting their cause.
So there you have it! Nasser predicted hacking would "evolve" over a 22-day war to the point where "some sectors might come to a halt" and lead to a "disruption [that] could be catastrophic" to the U.S. "Hopefully," Nasser pleaded, "war will be averted, and there will be no need to test" America's oh-so-weak computer defenses.
One question burns on my lips. You know I gotta ask it. I just can't help myself.
"Is Nasser related to the Iraqi information minister?"
Last but not least, you should read what USA Today correspondent Kevin Maney had to say. He penned one of the most humorous mainstream cyber-war articles out there.
"All of a sudden, Saddam's computer explodes with e-mail. It's all spam, made in America — thousands of offers. Consolidate your debt. Earn money working at home. Enlarge your breasts. It would be like Internet carpet bombing. He'd surrender within days."
Sharif obviously dropped by Vmyths while researching his story. It wouldn't surprise me if Maney reads Vmyths, too. He's got the right attitude...