[ISN] [Vmyths.com ALERT] Cyber-terror attack predicted for Thursday

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Aug 25 06:19:50 EDT 2004

Forwarded from: Vmyths.com Virus Hysteria Alert <vmyths_news at vmyths.com>

CATEGORY: Dire predictions of a cyber-war or cyber-terrorism

Russian news site MosNews.com has reported "terrorists will paralyze
the Internet on August 26" (this Thursday).  The story cites virus
experts Alexander Gostev and Eugene Kaspersky, both who work for
Kaspersky Labs, a large Russian antivirus firm.  MosNews ran the story
under the headline "Russian Computer Expert Predicts Internet
Terrorist Attack."

   MosNews.com story (English):

The web page address includes the phrase "internetend" -- an obvious
reference to the end of the Internet as we know it.

Vmyths dismisses this "Internet Terrorist Attack" story as baseless
hysteria, for numerous reasons explained below.

It appears MosNews derived their story from a newswire published by
Lenta.ru, which may have derived their own story from a Novosti
newswire.  In other words, it's "hand-me-down" news, and this is a
systemic problem in computer security.  Reporters will often quote
each others' stories as their main sources of information.  Worse,
these stories originated in Russia, where many news agencies have
dissolved into sensationalist tabloids since the breakup of the Soviet

Speaking directly to Novosti's reporters, Gostev supposedly claimed
"the United States and Western Europe will suffer from the attack" on
Thursday, while Kaspersky supposedly "reminded that similar attacks
had earlier paralyzed [the] Internet in South Korea.  He added that it
would be 'impossible' to stop terrorist organizations if they 'get
down to business.'"

As expected, the Novosti newswire described the cyber-terrorists as
"Islamic" fundamentalists who declared Thursday a day of "electronic

Gostev and Kaspersky claimed they learned about the cyber-terror
attack from data "published on specialized sites," and Gostev admitted
"it is difficult to say how true this information is."  Statements
like this raise a RED FLAG at Vmyths.  We believe the men studied
messages left by narcissistic braggarts, not Islamic cyber-warriors.  
Vmyths has seen NO objective corroborating evidence for an Internet
armageddon in the near future.

Narcissistic braggarts have a notorious habit of (1) declaring an
attack date and then (2) failing to show up for duty at the appointed
time.  One of the most hilarious examples of this took place in 1997;
see http://Vmyths.com/hoax.cfm?id=28&page=3 for details.

According to Novosti, Kaspersky concluded by saying "it is ghastly
enough that these people have mentioned 'electronic jihad' for the
first time."  Kaspersky is clearly mistaken if the newswire quoted him
in context.  Hackers and the media have used this exact term for
years; a Google search returns 500+ matches.  Israel's Jerusalem Post
newspaper used a similar term, "virtual jihad," four years ago.  mi2g
(a well-documented fearmonger) has issued predictions over the years
for electronic jihads which have NEVER come to pass.

   Remember this when virus hysteria strikes:

MosNews quoted Lenta.ru, which quoted another virus expert, who
insisted "Kaspersky Labs has been foretelling the doomsday for a long
time."  Vmyths agrees they occasionally sensationalize threats -- but
a global cyber-terror prediction seems highly out of character for
them.  And the Kaspersky.com website so far offers no special
news/advice for its clients.  The Novosti newswire oddly claims
Kaspersky Labs "will be switched over to the 'yellow' danger level" on
Thursday, but this, too, seems highly out of character for the
antivirus firm.

For all of these reasons, Vmyths dismisses this "Internet Terrorist
Attack" story as baseless hysteria.

Vmyths assumes Alexander Gostev & Eugene Kaspersky were quoted out of
context -- but we don't know HOW MUCH they were quoted out of context.  
This may be an example of a "worst-case scenario briefing" gone awry.  
(See http://Vmyths.com/rant.cfm?id=540&page=4 for more on this
subtopic.)  We asked Kaspersky Labs to comment on the Russian news
stories and we'll publish their response as soon as we get it.

Unfortunately, the global media has a FETISH for "end of the Internet"
stories.  Vmyths predicts the following:

   (1) On Wednesday, news outlets around the world will report the
       Novosti newswire (and stories derived from it) without 
       question.  A sensationalist reporter might even link 
       cyber-terrorism to the breaking news of two Russian jetliners 
       that just crashed.  "Did Islamic hackers take over the cockpits?"
   (2) On Thursday, a few news outlets will acknowledge the prediction flopped.
   (3) On Friday, reporters will dump the story as a non-event.

The SANS "Internet Storm Center" (http://isc.sans.org) currently
reports a "green" status for the Internet.  SANS "predicts that the
Internet will not vaporize into a cloud of nothingness this Thursday,
but if it does, it's been our pleasure to help stave off its
inevitable annihilation this long."  Vmyths applauds SANS for its
sense of humor.

Don't bet on an Islamic cyber-attack this Thursday.  Stay calm.  Stay
reasoned.  And stay tuned to Vmyths.

Rob Rosenberger, editor
Rob at Vmyths.com
(319) 646-2800

  * Cory Altheide (SANS), for URLs to Russian news stories
  * Confidential source, for the Novosti newswire

CATEGORY: Dire predictions of a cyber-war or cyber-terrorism

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