Department of Homeland Security
29, 2006 8:48:17 AM MST
To: All US
Wide Web cleanup
necessary to inform all internet dependent facilities that the internet
shut down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from midnight on March 31
through the early hours of April 2. This cleaning is necessary to
clear out the "electronic flotsam and jetsam" that has accumulated in
the network. Dead email and inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites will be
The cleaning will be done by five very powerful Japanese-built
Internet-crawling robots (Toshiba ML-2274) situated around the
world. During this period, users are warned to disconnect all devices
from the internet. If electronic files will be needed during that
period of time, it is
advised that back-up systems be used, without attempting to access
them through the Internet. Although the general public has not been
this shutdown to avoid a general panic, it has been deemed necessary to
public medical and emergency facilities that may have become internet
dependent. This message may be passed on to any facility or person that
believe may be affected by this short shutdown.
Thank you for
your cooperation in this matter.
Secretary for Homeland Security Randy Beardsworth
I don't know about you, but I can really tell the difference
— my Internet connection has never been so swift and nimble, unencumbered as
it is now by defunct gopher site debris.
You can read about the history of this memo, whose origins
actually predate the Internet, at http://www.snopes.com/holidays/aprilfools/cleaning.asp.
I went poking around Snopes on a quest for amusing hoaxes after checking out
Internet threats your users can ignore," which detail a variety of popular
scams and phony warnings.
Whenever I read about such pranks, I think, "Who but
the most incredibly mindless or profoundly nontechnical user would fall for
this???" Well, all sorts of folks, apparently — including the mindful and
tech-savvy. One member posted to the article
discussion thread to observe: "It's funny just how many people fall
for this stuff. I have friends — seemingly intelligent people — that will
send me forwards about how Bill Gates will send me $2 for every person this
gets forwarded to. I ask them if they really think they're going to get a check
and they say 'probably not but who knows?'"
Just goes to show. There's a cybersucker born every minute
and two to phish him.
Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior features editor for Tech Pro Research.