May 7, 2000

   The American public has given hacking a free ride at least since the
   movie "War Games" made it seem kind of cool. Instead of scorning
   hackers as repugnant techno-vandals, we've treated them as huggable,
   lovable outlaws. Modern-day Jesse Jameses.

[We have? Thus the rash of charges brought against hackers for what amounts to virtual
graffitti? 5 years in prison for hacking doesn't seem like we're
treating them as 'huggable'.]
   Hackers play to type. They typically are aloof young outsiders. They
   act out a "Revenge of the Nerds" fantasy that appeals to desk jockeys

[Just like all journalists are nosy weasels invading the privacy of anyone
for a buck, right?]
   And they disarm the public by giving cute names to their sinister
   pranks. It's hard to work up umbrage against the "I Love You" virus.
   And "Melissa" didn't sound too threatening, either.

[And names like 'killer', 'cyber fuckers', and 'crime boys' inspire
joy-joy feelings in all of us.]
   Even last fall's "denial of service" attacks on Yahoo! and other Web
   sites barely registered. From Marshall Field's to McDonald's to Amoco
   stations, customer service is so rare that "denial of service" sounds
   more like a lifestyle than a criminal threat.

[Barely registered? It made front page on newspapers I saw in gas
stations between LA and PHX, out in the middle of nowhere.]
   Some people feel reassured that hackers never seem to do much "real" 
   damage. Skeptics snort when computer experts claim the "I Love You" 
   virus caused nearly $12 billion in damage from lost files and lost
   After all, who comes up with those estimates? None other than the
   computer security firms that stand to benefit from hyping the threat. 

[The government and law enforcement are usually the first to come up with
such inflated figures. Then wonderful companies like
generating these stats, despite their lack of trained economists on staff 
and nonexistant assistance from security or network administrators.]
   How nice it would be if this laissez faire attitude toward hacking
   were completely justified. What an uncomplicated world it would be if
   hacking was no more dangerous than the spray painting that street
   gangs leave behind when they mark urban alleyways.
   But that's not the way it is.

[It isn't? Most public 'hacking' crimes are nothing more than glorified
graffiti, defacing NT Web servers using scripts that anyone could run from
their desktop, give the user little or no access to the machine being 
targeted beyond the replacement of its Web page.]
   Hackers already are far more dangerous than most people know. In the
   last year alone, intentionally inflicted viruses have taken down
   airport control systems and 911 emergency call centers. They have
   permanently converted millions of personal computers into cybertrash.

[A single case of an airport traffic control tower being
hit, and one semi-related case where a swedish hacker disrupted 911 
service in central Florida in 1996, but of course you can't quote either 
of those stories. Further, one of each incident and you use this to claim 
hackers have hit each multiple times.]
   They'll have the power to destroy our computers the moment they
   arrive, via e-mail or the Internet. They'll make broadband attacks on
   the backbone of the Internet. And worse.

[So hackers will be able to intrude upon systems before they are
delivered, and attack then via "e-mail OR the Internet"? This is just
about the most clueless statement possible.]

   For starters, we've got to get past this notion that "hacking" is
   somehow cute. Next step: treat hacking like the deadly scourge it is.

[Just as we must treat fraudulent journalism as the scourge that it is.
You make money from this crap, hackers rarely (if ever) do.]