Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
mi2g's ''new'' worst nightmare, ''hate sites''Vox Populi, Letters to the Editor
Friday, 17 December 2004
[Editor's note: this letter came in response to this column.]
I HAVE TO admire mi2g's ingenuity. Having built their business on fearmongering and imaginative damage estimates, they appear to be making a major change of direction. Their November press release, "How real is the threat of cyber terrorism?" was a complete volte-face. Now they have cleverly combined a "new" worst nightmare, "hate sites," with an attack on their persistent critic, Vmyths.
Why did mi2g suddenly conclude hate sites were such a threat? There has been sporadic news coverage of *sucks.com and ihate*.com sites for years. Is there new evidence of this problem becoming more serious, or is mi2g simply searching for a new bogeyman to fearmonger against?
However, I find mi2g's willingness to lump together anyone who dares criticise a corporate brand with racist and violent extremists is frightening. And can't they see the irony of criticising the Internet for providing to the critics, "unprecedented opportunity to market themselves — unhindered — at very low cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," when the corporations they are criticising are using exactly the same opportunity. Freedom of speech works both ways.
I have never felt that Vmyths has tried to garner negative sentiments against the anti-virus software and security industry. In my opinion it is intelligently furthering the debate about how we should address these problems through the medium of humour. Vmyths is in no way a "hate" site — it criticises specific instances, and it allows a right of reply (publishing mi2g's criticism in full is just the latest example of that). The targets are not just specific companies, but also include any governments or "experts" who say something worthy of criticism. Many pieces are actually supportive of the anti-virus industry, such as the False Authority Syndrome, and Why Don't Anti-Virus Firms Get Infected?.
Some of mi2g's accusations can be dismissed because they are deliberately unverifiable. Apparently Vmyths has, "never written against certain computing vendors" — if mi2g wants that accusation taken seriously, they will have to name the vendors, and give examples of when Vmyths' published aims should have led them to write against those vendors.
However, there is a serious accusation that Vmyths was offered for sale to mi2g. Any light that Vmyths, or Mr. Matai, can throw on this would be appreciated.
The mi2g article is also available on their website — I wonder what they mean by "restricted list"?
Allan Dyer works for an Anti-Virus and Information Security company in Hong Kong, China. He has appeared on stage in the Albert Hall, performed genetic engineering experiments, put his own blood into his research, and worked where smallpox was stored. More recently, he modified government websites and spoke at conferences around the world. Gunfire is often heard outside his office, and tanks are seen nearby. He continues to improve his more exciting (but still accurate) bio. He has not given viruses to the Chinese government, is not employed by an anti-virus developer and has not been named in criticism by Vmyths.
Allan Dyer noted a "serious accusation" (see above) and he asked for "any light that Vmyths ... can throw on this." Editor Rob Rosenberger responds: