It's April 1 and the world has not come to an end.
Many of you might seem surprised because the latest cyber worm threat, Conficker, was billed as a ticking time bomb. Even 60 Minutes got into the act this past weekend with a scary piece on the cyber threat.
I don't know about you, but these endless stories about cyber sabotage are starting to sound like parent threatening a child with the bogeyman.
The latest cyber culprit is called "Conficker." It was detected in November and exploits security gaps in Microsoft's Windows program.
Supposedly, it's going to begin forming a computer army today to take over the world.
OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but that's close to what the 60 Minutes episode tried to infer.
Here's Leslie Stahl's take:
"Conficker investigators have been talking about an April Fool's attack, because in dissecting the worm, they can see it's been programmed to receive new instructions on April 1. But nobody knows if the instructions will be benign, or something that could disrupt the entire Internet."
She called worms and viruses "creepy, crawly toxic software that contaminate our computers without our ever knowing it."
Sounds like something out of "Body Snatchers."
I'm not downplaying the damage cyber crimes can cause and the importance of Internet security. I even wrote about the topic for the New York Times a few years back.
But we're starting to take a sky-is-falling approach to these issues, and cyber protection companies that make money from our panic often fan the flames and are more than willing to be quoted by every media outlet out there.
I guess it makes sense since they're the ones with the knowledge, but we should be extra skeptical when they predict Internet Armageddon.
I've already gotten quite a few emails from Internet security companies this week, and one I got yesterday even mentions the 60 Minutes story in the subject line:
"60 Minutes" 4/1 Huge Internet Threat report ...
Among all the hype on the Internet, I found one voice of reason: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a ZDNet blogger,
He actually put together a "No Bull Guide to Conficker." Here's an excerpt:
"Some antivirus companies love to hype malware because it's a great way to sell security products. While Conficker isn't new (it's been around since November last year), the April 1st trigger date gives security firms the opportunity to ratchet up the hype a couple of more notches (and help drive concerned users straight into the hands of cybercriminals). However, it's important to note that it's unclear right now as to what will happen come the trigger date. However, what is clear is that you will need to be infected to be at risk of anything happening at all."
What's your take? Is it hype or sensible fear? Have you ever been a victim of a "creepy, crawly" cyber villain?