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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Did Novell CEO concoct a hoax, or just get duped?

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Friday, 3 December 1999

AT BEST, NOVELL CEO Eric Schmidt suffers from false authority syndrome. At worst, he concocted a hoax as a marketing ploy. Look no farther if you wonder why urban legends continue to spread.

According to Sm@rt Reseller, Schmidt told San Francisco's Digital Economy conference "his credit card number had been stolen over the Internet in the past. Although he isn't sure exactly how his card number was lifted, Schmidt says he believes it was through a mechanism that reads the cookies — files sitting on a user's desktop and storing personal information, such as passwords and preferences."

Did Novell's CEO concoct a hoax? Or did he just get duped by a myth?

Novell's CEO got attacked by a cookie monster? I honestly expect captains of industry to offer us more plausible explanations for credit card fraud. The article goes on to say "Schmidt is trying to oust cookies with his company's new 'digitalme' online identification-management service." What a coincidence, eh?

Let me rewrite the story for effect:

"CVMhp webmaster Rob Rosenberger informed his readers that Novell CEO Eric Schmidt spouted an urban legend for marketing purposes. Although he isn't sure exactly if Schmidt concocted a hoax or got duped by a myth, Rosenberger says he believes Schmidt needs to get a clue. 'At best, Novell's CEO got scared by a cookie monster," says Rosenberger, citing the lack of plausibility and the blatant lack of evidence."

Critical thinkers peppered a ZDNN "Talkback" area with their $0.02 about Schmidt's accusation. "This may be little more than a plug for a new product," mused one reader. "The last thing we need is more media paranoia based on unproven facts," asserted another. One person labeled Schmidt "either a shameless liar or a tech idiot."

Time for a word association game. "Novell. Networks. Interconnectivity. Internet. E-commerce. Security. Fraud." Good grief! Novell unwittingly helped steal Schmidt's credit card. I don't know exactly how Novell got involved in the theft ... but that's my belief and I'm sticking to it.