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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Rob Rosenberger

Expect media to go berzerk over Melissa

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Sunday, 28 March 1999

NETWORK ASSOCIATES AND Trend Micro issued "advisory" press releases on Friday about the newborn Melissa virus. NAI claims they discovered it on Thursday and scheduled a telephone press conference for Friday. Quotes flowed freely in press releases and reporters' interviews. NAI: "Melissa is widely reported and spreading quickly via mass e-mail." Trend: "a new and quickly spreading macro virus." Other firms quickly chimed in with their own dire assessments. Symantec: "a common macro virus." Data Fellows: "a virulent and widespread computer virus found on Friday." Sophos: "extremely widespread in less than eighteen hours."

My current working theory? Search for a spammer, not a virus author. You'll pro­bably find a spam booster rocket floating some­where in cyberspace...

It looks like the media will go berzerk over Melissa. From MSNBC: "experts think hundreds of thousands of PCs might have been infected" in roughly 36hrs. From ZDNet: "'Melissa' could rival the Cornell Internet Worm released in 1998."

History suggests the reporting will erupt into full-scale worldwide media hysteria. History also suggests computer security stocks will rise thanks to all the valuable worldwide publicity. Grab a box of popcorn, folks — Melissa may turn into a blockbuster. (Movie trailers will feature the long-awaited sequel to Win95.CIH hysteria, opening on 26 April.)