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Resources | Hysteria roll call: Dan Verton

Hysteria roll call: Dan Verton
Duty status: active
Summary: a former intelligence officer who reports on cyber-terrorism for Computerworld. Washington's "beltway bandits" know they can rely on him to provide free ink whenever they want it. Verton destroyed his respectability with a string of absurd "exclusive interviews" with fire-breathing Muslim clerics and narcissistic hackers. His fetish to interview cyber-terrorists once led him to get duped by a reporter posing as one. (Computerworld had to retract one of his stories because of it.) Security experts can't really agree if Verton is dumb like Jethro Clampett or savvy like Geraldo Rivera. One thing is obvious -- Verton abandons a skeptical viewpoint for any "exclusive" story that falls into his lap. He recently inked a book on cyber-terror in which he relied on his own absurd Computerworld stories to make his case.
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Cyber-terror drama skates on thin Black Ice
Thomas C. Greene of The Register filed a scathing review of Dan Verton's book on cyber-terrorism. "I was anticipating a balanced discussion of the threats and risks associated with cyber terror, which is, after all, something that has never occurred. Unfortunately, the book soon loses its balance and tips increasingly in the direction of paranoid speculation. This shift in tone culminates on page 96, where Verton claims that 'we can safely discard the opinions of those who argue that cyber-terrorism ... is impossible.' At that point I lost all sympathy for what the author was saying. It is indeed reasonable to question the plausibility of cyber-terrorism; and it's quite preposterous to 'discard the opinions' of sceptics. There are some very smart and knowledgeable people who think cyber-terror is a myth..."
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Security experts duped by Slammer 'jihad' rot
In a story carried widely across the Internet, Dan Verton got duped by a reporter posing as a cyber-terrorist. Verton's fetish for "exclusive interviews" did him in, and his editors at Computerworld were forced to retract his story. Most media outlets chose to report the story in a factual way, thereby giving Verton the benefit of the doubt. Thomas C. Greene of The Register, on the other hand, exposed Verton's fetish in one of the most perceptive stories on what happened. "The money's on Verton at this point; he's just caught his Mr Mujahid in one of those not-quite-right claims that send up signal flares to experienced journos -- which Verton definitely is. Ah, but the cyber-terrorism angle is just too sexy..."
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''Iraq will destroy us by computer,'' the experts screamed (part 2)
"I've written whole columns on Computerworld scribe Dan Verton, one of the more gullible cyber-war reporters out there," Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger lamented while reviewing Verton's contributions to "Iraq cyber-war" hysteria...
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Where's that ''megaworm'' you warned us about, Dan?
Verton breathlessly warned the world: "in an exclusive interview with Computerworld, [an idiot who calls himself] Melhacker confirmed earlier reports ... that he has developed and tested a 'three-in-one' megaworm... 'I will attack or launch this worm if America attacks Iraq.' The worm has been ready and fully tested in his lab since August [2002], he said." Melhacker failed to release the worm when the U.S. toppled Iraq, and Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger tore into the absurdity of the story. "Don't you just love it when hackers pre-announce their diabolical creations? And don't you just love it when a gullible reporter like Verton falls for it?"
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Shrieking Sheikh Bakri
In this two-part series, Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger trashes Dan Verton's absurd "exclusive Al Qaeda interview" with a cleric who lives in the splendors of London. "A firebreathing sheikh agrees to divulge Al Qaeda's master plan -- and some dweeb at Computer­world gets the exclusive interview? Why didn't he flap his gums at Morley Safer or Barbara Walters or Connie Chung or Larry King? I mean, c'mon! Not even Jerry Springer? Not even Geraldo Rivera?"
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