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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Rob Rosenberger

mi2g sets a new record for absurdity

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Sunday, 13 February 2005 I'VE GOT THE flu right now. I follow a straight­forward routine: sit on the toilet, crouch over the toilet, sit on the toilet, crouch over the toilet...
mi2g declared a pre­ci­sion of six sig­ni­fi­cant figures in their global virus/worm damage guess­ti­mates for 2004.
SIX SIG­NI­FI­CANT FIGURES!
mi2g even dared to esti­mate the May 2000 'Love Bug' virus to five sig­ni­fi­cant figures. A woman who does PR for an antivirus firm sent me a sympath e-card. "I got sick when I first took this job," she wrote. "Then I paid a doctor to remove my ethics. I haven't squirted or puked since!" Great news. Can I get a moralectomy as an outpatient? When I feel this bad, I get a desperate urge to take it out on somebody. No sense in me suffering alone, eh? So I decided to puke & squirt on the friendly fearmongers at mi2g. Why? Because their firm possibly will celebrate a birthday this month, and because they finally issued their absurd total virus/worm damage guesstimates for 2004. I'll tackle the birthday discrepancy in tomorrow's column. Right now I just want to focus on mi2g's absurd guesstimates. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy. Look in the lower left for my vandalistic equations. Or click here if you want to see only what I scribbled. mi2g magically declared six significant figures of precision in their worldwide damage estimates. SIX SIGNIFICANT FIGURES! mi2g calculated their planetary damage guesstimates to the nearest $100,000 — and they broke it down for each virus/worm. How much more over-the-top can you possibly get? Let me simplify the math for you. mi2g's underlying data must be accurate to plus or minus one dollar. As in, "the MyDoom attack caused precisely $368,714 in total economic damages to corporate site X while the Klez virus cost them precisely $117,644 in damages..." No respected economics expert will declare six significant figures for the total cost of the World Trade Center attack in September 2001. It would violate the economic analogy for Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Yet mi2g offers absurdly precise global economic damage guesstimates for a computer virus written nearly five years ago by a mediocre Philippine college student. Six significant figures of precision, folks. From a company that won't reveal how they alone can acquire enough absurdly accurate microeconomic data to satisfy whatever macroeconomic transmogrifier they concocted for PR reasons.
mi2g could win a Nobel prize in eco­no­mics — IF they didn't vio­late the eco­no­mic anal­ogy for Heisen­berg's Uncer­tainty Prin­ciple.
I can't help but quote Richard Forno (InfoWarrior.org), who summed up mi2g's shenanigans a few years ago. "One wonders how much mathematical masturbation takes place when analyzing and generating these numbers..."
I REPEAT MYSELF when I say mi2g would flunk out of an Economics 101 course. "Where's your supporting data, young man, and how did you acquire it? Which extrapolation model did you use? Does your propagation of error support six significant figures, or did you just punch some numbers into a calculator? Why didn't you estimate the total number of PCs infected by each virus? Did you calculate the 'Love Bug' estimate in static 2000 dollars or did you adjust for inflation?" Look again at mi2g's award-winning macroeconomic theory. Study it carefully. These guys take quantitative measurements to a whole new level. {sniff} I smell a Nobel prize in economics, folks! Or maybe I smell an over-the-top publicity stunt. Or maybe I forgot to flush after my last trip to the vomitorium...