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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

An ePH will make WWII look like the WWF

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Friday, 17 December 1999

"ELECTRONIC PEARL HARBOR" marks a future day which will live in infamy.

Thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines will someday lose their lives on Electronic Pearl Harbor Day because über-hackers previously altered medical records to indicate the wrong blood types. Doctors will supposedly rely on database info instead of typing patients' blood on the spot or reading their dog tags or ID cards.

Nationwide 911 service will fail on this future Electronic Pearl Harbor Day because a hoax email will tell everyone it failed. Credulous recipients will then supposedly dial 911 to see if it still works in their area — thus swamping the system with unnecessary calls.

On this Electronic Pearl Harbor Day, air traffic control systems, dam control systems, power grid control systems, railway control systems, prison control systems, stock market control systems, water purification control systems, and many other critical control systems will obey evil commands sent over the Internet. Fearmongers believe the original Pearl Harbor will look like a kid's game in comparison.

CSSPAB asked me to introduce myself to them on Pearl Harbor Day. As I waited my turn to speak, I watched two men of Japanese descent stand before a U.S. flag flying at half-staff. The younger man took a photo of the older man as he stood proudly in front of the flag. Perhaps he joined the U.S. Navy only to survive Pearl Harbor? Perhaps U.S. officials interred him in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry? I'll never know.

And someday I just won't care. Someday, an electronic Pearl Harbor will make Normandy look like a wrestling match. Someday, a cyber-terrorist will destroy whole U.S. cities with a computer virus. Click! A million dead in Atlanta. Click-click! There goes Seattle. A future electronic Pearl Harbor will make WWII look like the WWF. One old geezer in front of a flag will mean nothing to me.

What marks the original Pearl Harbor? Sunken battleships and a perpetual oil slick. What will mark the next Pearl Harbor? A wrist rest and a mouse pad.

Politicians who scream about "information warfare" cheapen the significance of Pearl Harbor. To those men on eternal patrol, I say: rest easy. A computer virus will not overwrite your sacrifice. I and an old man will remember you even if DEPSECDEF Hamre forgets.