Collaboration

Internet closed for spring cleaning: Web-crawling robots roll up their sleeves

From:

Department of Homeland Security

Date: March

29, 2006 8:48:17 AM MST

To: All US

Medical Facilities

Subject: World

Wide Web cleanup

It

is

necessary to inform all internet dependent facilities that the internet

will be

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

purged.

The cleaning will be done by five very powerful Japanese-built

multi-lingual

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

informed of

this shutdown to avoid a general panic, it has been deemed necessary to

inform

public medical and emergency facilities that may have become internet

dependent. This message may be passed on to any facility or person that

you

believe may be affected by this short shutdown.

Thank you for

your cooperation in this matter.

U.S. Assistant

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

Deb Shinder's recent article and download "10

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.

About Jody Gilbert

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.

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