After Hours

If it's on TV it's probably a false scare - here's why


Well, surprise, Kama

Sutra was a big bust, so to speak (pun intended). I was concerned at first

about this first big worm of the new year as I saw reports on the number of

infected computers, but most anti virus vendors were rating this a low-level

threat and the virus was known and in AV update packages long before the

trigger date so, while concerned, I certainly didn’t panic my clients.

 But I can trace the exact moment

when I knew it was going to be a bust – the morning of February 3 when I saw the first national

TV news report on Kama Sutra - when it was too late to

do anything about preparing for it by installing AV software or updating

signatures.

 In case you hadn’t noticed, TV

news is in the business of scaring people and is very self-absorbed. After some

news organizations were taken down by malware because they didn’t take any

precautions, newsrooms are now hypersensitive to the threat.

 Don’t agree? Well, how else do

you explain the incredible amount of coverage given to an injured TV talking

head when he and his cameraman were injured in Iraq?

There was more time devoted to them than to all the injured or dead Iraqis AND

all the injured and dead military personnel in the entire previous week!

 TV folks are always announcing

that so and so is off on assignment, or caught a cold, or is having a baby or know

someone who did. Who cares? They, including the weather person who mostly

reports what already happened or what you can see by looking out a window, do

little but wear makup and read news reported by other people who actually go out and find

facts. That and chat among themselves trying to seem more interesting than all those other talking heads.

 If you scare people enough, they

will be very certain to watch every news program to see what new threat is coming.

This makes it difficult to separate real threats such as avian flu or failing

schools (which are mostly the fault of governments), from artificial threats

such as home invasions or random shootings which are actually extremely rare

with violent crime dropping steadily for nearly a decade!

Likewise, you seldom see a report on TV

about the real threats to computer security from insiders, or social

engineering, or the dangers of donating computers to charity without removing

the hard drives, or the dangers to privacy posed by  poorly designed software.

 Of course I reported in my column

about the Kama Sutra/Blackmal threat and many here on

TechRepublic covered the threat. It would have been irresponsible not to pass

along a warning because we cover all IT threats here and Kama

Sutra did have the potential to be dangerous. The difference is that we cover

the REAL threats also.

Don’t forget what I said about this worm in my Locksmith Column back on January 30,

 “I just don't know how dangerous

this new threat is. However, I suspect it won't amount to much because it's

already in the virus signature databases of most antivirus programs.

Keep your head down and maintain your security software!

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