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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Kiss your Christmas PC goodbye

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Thursday, 19 August 1999

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS quoted Central Command president Keith Peer, who said the new W32.Kriz virus poses a more "lethal" danger than Chernobyl. "Unlike the Chernobyl virus," Peer warned, W32.Kriz "can infiltrate a business environment."

Chernobyl didn't attack Asian businesses? (Wow.) Let's not digress, though. W32.Kriz will trigger its evil payload on Christmas Day — and I get stumped by the media attention at this point.

Some Fortune 1000 firms canceled the New Year's Day holiday in fear of the deadly Y2K virus. However, I don't see why they would also cancel one of the most holy days on the Gregorian calendar. It falls one full week before the Internet's scheduled demise, you know. I think businesses will take the day off anyway as a force of habit.

Only Bob Cratchit and a few 7-11 employees need to work on Christmas Day. Trust me: those people don't use PCs on a regular basis. Heck, Cratchit doesn't even have an email address (his boss is a real Scrooge). So you see, I just can't imagine the unholy wrath of W32.Kriz this year.

Hey! What about all the non-Christian religions & societies out there? Those users might take the brunt of this new über-virus for all we know. Buddist Richard Gere, for example, might fire up his laptop like any other regular workday. He might lose the movie script for "American Gigolo II" as a result.

Or will he? Christmas falls on a Saturday this year. Did you know many nations & businesses treat Saturday as a day of rest? (It makes a great trivia question.) Certain religions consider it the Sabbath, the one day each week devoted to reflection and prayer. Gere might not acknowledge Christmas these days, but I bet he still likes to party it up on the weekends. I think "AmericanGigoloII.doc" will remain safe.

It sounds like business users don't need to fret much about the threat of W32.Kris this year. Perhaps the media wants us to worry instead about personal computers? Santa's elves will build a lot of PCs for faithful Christians — who will plug them in for the first time (you guessed it) on Christmas Day. Hmmm...

Nah, this media attention still stumps me. I happen to sit on the organizing committee for the yearly NPCSW (North Pole Computer Security Workshop). Trust me: the sleigh dude knows all about virus threats. Kringle Corp. employees focus on hardware ... so Santa paid the Keebler elves to provide state-of-the-art antivirus software. Man, if they can sanitize a hollow tree for food production, they can easily sanitize Christmas computers! I doubt W32.Kriz will ruin PCs stowed under the plastic tannenbaum.

Daddy's current workhorse might get handed down to the oldest son on Christmas Day. ("It's still in the den. Take it to your room.") He'll immediately fire it up to chat with friends or upload viruses. Does it really matter at this point if it gets wiped out by W32.Kriz? Oldest Son will lose a VX library and some porno pictures, big deal. He'll just re-flash the BIOS chip, install Linux, then write a web page which blames Microsoft for the worldwide virus problem.

I remain stumped by the media attention surrounding W32.Kriz. I just don't see the big threat.