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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Night of the meek

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Saturday, 25 December 2004

Rob Rosenberger MY WIFE AND I slept in an emergency shelter in Kuttawa, KY on 23 December. I'd like to thank the Kuttawa United Methodist Church for opening its doors when a blizzard dropped 14" of snow and 4" of ice in a region not familiar with such weather.

No doubt about it: people hud­dled in emer­gency shel­ters during a bliz­zard must take com­pu­ter secu­rity more seri­ously...

We slept on the floor of the shelter with a bunch of people who couldn't find a room at the inn. Some of them lost their cars to an interstate median — or worse. I overheard one woman talking on her cell phone. "He was intoxicated. No, we still don't know if he has insurance..."

You know me. I had to ask if anyone was concerned about computer security. "Are you worried about your office network right now? Will a virus destroy your livelihood over the holidays while you huddle in somebody else's wool blankets?"

Not one person cared about computer security in the emergency shelter. Not even my wife. "Will you quit bothering them? Does everything have to be a column to you?"

The next day we got back on the road (such as it was). Newspaper headlines screamed about the billion-plus dollars in damage this one blizzard cost Illinois & Kentucky & Tennessee. People crashed their vehicles and some even lost their lives — just because they wanted to celebrate Christmas at grandma's house. Truckers crashed their rigs and many of them failed to deliver their loads on time — simply because 14" of snow and 4" of ice fell across the region.

"Why can't Americans put bad weather in proper perspective," I wondered, "when mi2g claims hackers & viruses caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage this year alone?"

We arrived one day late at a Super 8 motel in Crossville, TN. I made my reservation days in advance at Super8.com, but here's the kicker — the Super 8 website failed to tell our Super 8 motel about our reservation. We didn't get charged for the night we slept in an emergency shelter.

No excuse: it just happened. They didn't know we had a reservation, hence they couldn't charge us when we failed to arrive. Mind you, this motel offers both wired and wireless access in every room (where I conveniently filed this column).

There, you see? Weather results in merely an intangible loss. Internet transactions, on the other hand, result in a tangible loss. Super 8 lost $49.95 and the city of Crossville lost valuable tax revenue.

No doubt about it: people huddled in emergency shelters during a blizzard must take computer security more seriously. Tiny Tim Cratchit said it best: "God bless the Internet!"

[Credit where due: I stole this column's headline from a "Twilight Zone" Christmas episode.]