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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

mi2g has no sense of humor, part 3

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 27 July 2004

[Editor's note: it will help if you first read part 1 of this series.]

Rob Rosenberger "WAITAMINIT ROB," YOU interject. "You yourself declared 'whatever doesn't kill a critic makes him stronger...'" Very true, and I know where you're going with this.

mi2g's critics might band to­gether if one of them gets attacked. This may very well explain why mi2g didn't name any of the kidnappers.

Legal contracts separate the business side of Vmyths from the editorial side. Even if mi2g accused us by name of extortion — and even if they proved it — so what? More than a year ago I said:

Our editorial staff cannot control the sale of Vmyths. Our investor can sell it to anyone for any price. On the other hand, our investor cannot control what you read at Vmyths. This "separation of church and state" is dictated by the contracts that formed Vmyths.

Even if mi2g accused us by name of extortion — and even if they proved it — George & Lew & I could "pass the buck." The editorial side of Vmyths would survive and grow stronger at mi2g's expense.

Of course, this scenario makes unethical assumptions about Vmyths and it makes ethical assumptions about mi2g. Talk about role reversal!

Richard Forno would likewise grow stronger if mi2g attacked him (again) and he survived it. The NTK newsletter and The Register would grow stronger, too. Anyone with enough guts to criticize mi2g would grow stronger if they survived an mi2g attack.

Indeed, mi2g's critics might band together if one of them gets attacked, and it could spur more critics to come out of the woodwork. I doubt mi2g wants to give their critics a reason to conspire. This may very well explain why they didn't name any of the kidnappers.

However, this entire line of thinking ignores a simple fact. mi2g suffers from a string of "negative publicity campaign[s]" because they deserve it. How dare they make a "ransom" accusation without naming the culprits! How dare they accuse "trusted web sites" of putting "silence" on their fee sheets! mi2g never earned enough respect to levy an indictment of this magnitu--

{exhale} Out with the bad air, {inhale} in with the good, {exhale} out with the bad air, {inhale} in with the good...

Okay, time now for some humor. First, though, we need to define two very important words:

sarcasm: 1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain 2a: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual   criticism: 1a: the act of criticizing usually unfavorably 1b: a critical observation or remark 1c: critique

If mi2g wants to "decommission" Vmyths, we'll sell the whole kit'n'kaboodle for a paltry 500,000 Euros. Matai could shut down his #1 critic with a single cheque payable to Rhode Island Soft Systems, and he can rejoice because I'll never see a dime of it (I won't touch the tainted money).

Hey everybody, look at me! I pasted up a ransom note! Woo hoo! Who says crime doesn't pay? Boy, I can't wait to see the hysterical press release from mi2g...

ultra­crep­i­darian: (n., adj.) a per­son who gives opinions be­yond his scope of knowledge.


I'VE SAID IT before and I'll say it again. I sympathize with innocent employees who get caught up in my corporate bashings.

When I shave, I often ask the guy in the mirror "whose job will you destroy today?" If mi2g should go under because of my endless criticism, I know it will affect everyone at the firm who just wanted to make the world a better place.

But there's the rub: I want to make the world a better place, too. I do it by critiquing the computer security industrial complex. I do it by exposing ultracrepidarian firms like mi2g. I do it by ridiculing bombastic CEOs like D.K. Matai.

Okay, enough ranting. Let's summarize my 3,500-word tirade:

  1. Someone wrote a parody of an mi2g alert.
  2. No one at Vmyths knows this person's identity.
  3. mi2g blew up at the parody and labeled it a dangerous "hoax."
  4. mi2g issued a bizarre press release about the "hoax."
  5. mi2g's press release denounced security sites by name for distributing a "hoax" to their readers.
  6. Two of those security sites didn't do what mi2g accused them of.
  7. mi2g corrected its press release after one of the innocent sites complained about it.
  8. mi2g didn't publicly acknowledge the errors in their original press release.
  9. mi2g didn't apologize to the innocent site that complained about it.
  10. mi2g claims the parody author "consistently abused" a free email account "by utilising it as the originator of a number of vulnerability postings."
  11. I and another expert found no obvious evidence of a "consistently abused" free email account, nor did we find "a number of vulnerability postings" by the author of the mi2g parody.
  12. mi2g claims "a particular set of trusted web sites" engages in extortion, demanding up to $1 million to halt a "negative publicity campaign."
  13. mi2g declared itself as one of the victims in these extortion schemes.
  14. mi2g didn't name any "trusted web sites" that supposedly engage in extortion.
  15. I jokingly pasted up a ransom note and made an extortion demand.
  16. mi2g desperately needs a dictionary and a tank of laughing gas.

Mary Landesman (About.com)
"Two things always come to my mind when I see some­thing from mi2g. The first is their extra­ordinary virus damage esti­mates that rival con­ser­va­tive esti­mates from the WTC disaster. The second is their name. I realize it's not an exact acro­nym, but... Every­time I see it, I think of 'many idiots glued 2gether'."

"Wait, Rob! Do you think mi2g secretly wrote the parody as a publicity stunt?" No. Too much time elapsed between the parody and the press release, for one thing. "A disgruntled employee, perhaps?" Doubtful, due to a lack of sarcasm. The author wrote a straightforward parody. "A competitor's employee?" Plausible due to the anonymity factor, but I doubt it. It strikes me as the brainchild of an mi2g client who can list a Wendy's job on his résumé. Someone with a sense of humor who lives in the U.S.

"Then do you think mi2g made a publicity stunt out of their press release?" No. Matai's anger in the 20 July press release seems wholly genuine. His anger makes sense when you realize (1) he fancies himself as a polymath and (2) he displays obvious signs of egocentrism. (Now you know why so few besides Matai can speak for mi2g. "Don't you mean egoism or egotism, Rob?" No. It's a convoluted story...)

I'll wrap up with our now-standard disclaimer. "Vmyths stands by its criticisms of mi2g & its founder. However, we pride ourselves for an industry-leading 'corrections and clarifications' page. Please write to VeaCulpa@Vmyths.com to contest our claims & accusations; please write to Letters@Vmyths.com to rebut our opinions & criticisms."

PS: I hope you enjoy my parody of mi2g's press release. Ha!

[Continued in part 4]