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Fear tells a good story and sells well: The Conficker April Fool’s joke as told to you by CBS and a security consulting business …

finnish-youth-group

Caption: The Finnish youth group which CBS’s 60 Minutes falsely accused of being a Russian cyber gang

In last week’s story on the Conficker worm infecting Windows computers CBS’s 60 Minutes falsely accused a Finnish Youth Group of being Russian cyber hackers, showed a photograph of them and put a so called hacker name to one of them: “Tempest”, a fourteen year old who “can’t legally drive a car and can’t join the army but he can hack into banks”. CBS did not check the facts. In its retraction to the story CBS blames the security company interviewed. They bought into the fear, hook, line and sinker.

Fear sells the story and fear sells anti virus software. Conficker, while real enough to Windows users, turned out to be a squib, made into an April Fool’s joke by fear mongering media and security software companies.

CBS are not alone in capitalising on the fear of malware. I’m not a substantial nor sympathetic user of Windows, but I sure feel they’re being taken to the cleaners by peddlers of security software and sensational media reports.

UPDATE: April 10th, 2006. There are reports today that Conficker woke up, used P2P networking to transfer its payload, installed its own fake antivirus software, a type of email server, a keylogger and was last seen bursting out of a FiOS cable coupling beneath the intersection of 43rd Street and 8th Avenue, headed towards the neon lights of Times Square on a 2Gb thumb drive shaped like a squid. Some of that might be true. Not all. There’s just way too much sensational speculation and a dearth of facts about malware.

Suggested links: The excised clip from CBS’ 60 Minutes interview with the blamed security company

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