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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

It's Orson Welles all over again

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Friday, 31 December 1999

"IT'S ORSON WELLS all over again," griped Internet user David Munoz. Crypt newsletter editor George C. Smith likened Y2K virus hysteria to "Dr. Strangelove." Both men make a persuasive argument.

I myself compare this latest hysteria to the 1992 Michelangelo fiasco and the 1996 Hare fiasco. Yet another case of hysterical media reports fueled by pseudo-experts who speculated wildly based on no evidence.

I checked in with an utterly reliable source in the financial world. (He runs the computer security operations for a Fortune firm.) His people will work this weekend strictly for political reasons — and his superiors know it. He trusts intrusion detection and antivirus software, and he doesn't expect anything big to happen anyway. Talk about a guy with his head screwed on straight!

"It's Orson Wells all over again."

In contrast, you can add the U.S. Small Business Administration to the list of companies & agencies scared bitless by Y2K viruses. Their website said they'll go down "for several hours over the New Year's holiday weekend" for "security" reasons.

"Several hours"? Try several dozen hours. I took this website snapshot yesterday. It looks the same as of this afternoon.

Will someone please tell me the "security logic" of replacing a perfectly good website with a TV test pattern? If you leave your web server up, you might as well leave it up. I bet these same people would post a sign saying "post no signs here."

I'll celebrate the new year when others will fear it. Nervous SBA officials will drink coffee on the virus night watch while I get rip-roaring drunk on champagne. I'll kiss women full on the lips at midnight when West Group kisses their computers good-bye.

Fearmongers will try to dismiss me by saying "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Bah. See y'all in the Y2K soup lines!