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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

iDefense rants pay no rents, part 2

George C. Smith, Ph.D., Editor-at-large
Tuesday, 4 September 2001 LAST WEEK, The Post-Newsweek Business Information wire ran a brief on the bankruptcy filing of iDefense, a smallish northern Virginia computer security firm famous for relentlessly pimping the coming of the cyber-terror Eschaton.
"I am very aware of everything that is going on in the classified arena."

-- iDefense founder James Adams

"In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, the company listed assets and liabilities between approximately $1 million and $10 million, each," said the Post-Newsweek item. One- to two-hundred creditors were said to be waiting at the door, with one of the largest being Blue Vector of New York at $1.4 million. Another creditor was said to be law firm McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe LLP, appointed by iDefense as corporate counsel in 1999, according to a website-published company history.

James Adams and iDefense: A study in understated humor and gentle wisdom

  • "Y2K will illustrate what an attack could do... Anybody who says after January 1, 2000 that this [threat of cyber attack] is all just made up I think is an idiot." From the University of Southern California's Networker magazine, winter 98-99.
  • Pentagon hackers employed in Eligible Receiver "did more than the massed might of Saddam Hussein's armies, than the Nazis in the Second World War." From Techweek, 1999.
  • ""One need only look at today's headlines to recognize industry's need for iDefense ... iDefense draws upon an unparalleled understanding of the critical infrastructure and a keen awareness of the growing threats and vulnerabilities confronting industry to provide its clients a timely and truly unique service." From PR Newswire, June 1999.
  • "iDefense is way ahead of the competition." From Washington Technology, "the business newspaper for government systems integrators," November 1999.
  • "Which brings us to the final rung on the escalatory ladder: the virtual equivalent of nuclear deployment. I offer as illustration Eligible Receiver." From a speech, "The Future of War, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, June 2000.
  • "Consider the recent LoveLetter virus... The effect? The equivalent of a modest war... No terrorist organization in history has ever achieved such damage with a single attack. Few small wars cost so much... The LoveLetter attack was indeed the first real taste of terrible things to come." Also from "The Future of War."
  • "Adams stated: 'iDefense is now beginning a period of very rapid growth.'" From a press release naming Brian Kelly as CEO and Adams as "visionary," January 2001.
  • On National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation," April 2001, a listener to a show on information warfare, featuring James Adams as a panelist, called in with this statement: "...I also have a question for Mr. Adams, I'm concerned about the scare tactics used by a lot of these security companies out there, including iDefense, which sells reports and services." Adams replied: "I think that's an interesting point. And clearly business is business. But I think there is a balance to be made between making aware what is going on and being responsible. And I am aware-- I am very aware of everything that is going on in the classified arena."
  • "Estimates of the cost of [the LoveLetter virus] to the United States range from $4 billion to $15 billion — or the equivalent, in conventional war terms, of the carpet-bombing of a small American city." From Foreign Affairs, May-June 2001.