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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Is 'credible evidence' too much to ask?

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Saturday, 25 December 1999

MERRY CHRISTMAS! A Y2K hangover will attack me in exactly one week. Fearmongers say my computers will likewise get attacked by a slew of Y2K über-viruses the likes of which the world has never seen. Not even antivirus firms can avoid them — because these viruses will infect every PC on the planet. And nothing will survive the onslaught — unless we temporarily turn off our computers.

Time for another philosophical question. Will antivirus firms shut down their own PCs on New Year's Eve to avoid unknown Y2K viruses?

So say the fearmongers. The skeptics see it differently.

The skeptics ask one all-important question: "where's the beef?" They see the recycled hysteria of previous media fiascos. They only ask to see credible evidence of a Y2K virus threat. They wail about a plague of statements which stimulate the media — statements made by both antivirus experts and U.S. government figureheads. The skeptics chide the latest crop of pseudo-experts for ordering whole companies to shut down their computers "just to be safe."

Computer security fearmongers didn't bother to collect data over the last 13 years. Even the experts fall prey to common myths ... because little or no evidence exists to counter their baseless claims. Fearmongers greatly outnumber skeptics, and fearmongers justify "public relations" as the cost of doing business.

One of these groups will damage its reputation on 1 January as a reliable source. Who will you bet on to win this credibility war? The fearmongers? Or the skeptics?

Ask yourself a simple question, folks. "Will antivirus firms shut down their own PCs on New Year's Eve to avoid unknown Y2K viruses?"