They're All In It Together (8/22/03)
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Attention, Windows users-- welcome to Virusville, population: you. But you knew that already. Meanwhile, as usual, in the past week and a half we Mac users on the whole have been only mildly inconvenienced by Blaster (e.g. slow network performance as infected Wintels spew packets like Linda Blair spewing split pea soup) and then SoBig.F (e.g. having to delete a couple hundred chunks of virus-infected spam). But between Mac users being generally unfazed and Wintel saps being resigned to their fate as the whipping boys of the virus world, are computer users in general missing a golden opportunity for extreme paranoia? Sources say yes!

Get this: according to Silicon.com, a "leading antivirus expert" named Peter Simpson insists that SoBig.F was not the work of some bored kid hoping to be able to claim L337 status, but rather "the latest in a series of forays into the digital world by organized criminals looking to make a move online." Organized crime developing viruses? Holy offer you can't refuse, Godfather! Reportedly these sneaky online gangsters are "combining the twin threats of spam and viruses for mutual gain." "It's all about the hidden agenda," says Simpson-- which, whether he's right or not, is exactly the sort of thing a seasoned conspiracy theorist says when he goes off his meds. Which is probably exactly why it resonates so well with us...

But if the thought of the Digital Mafia cranking out viruses isn't enough to freak you out, check out what the World Tech Tribune is reporting: sources at Microsoft allegedly claim that they, together with the FBI and Secret Service (whose URL, www.secretservice.gov, sure doesn't seem all that secret to us), have gathered evidence "linking the worldwide attacks made against computers running the Windows operating system to 'terrorist activity.'" Apparently Blaster and SoBig.F "show signs of a coordinated attack by an entity wanting to disrupt world commerce." Does anyone else find this a little suspicious in light of the Department of Homeland Security issuing an unprecedented two warnings about patching the specific hole in Windows that Blaster would exploit a couple of weeks later-- especially since DHS spokesman David Wray insisted at the time that "there is no apparent connection between the increased hacker activity and terrorism"?

So there you have it, folks: your paranoiac fodder for the weekend. Interestingly enough, assuming there's actually a distinction between organized crime and terrorism in this specific context and that both articles aren't just talking about the same thing, Microsoft's gross negligence (i.e. shipping products so full of security holes they could double as nifty colanders in a pinch) has, for all intents and purposes, made the company an accessory to the actions of both nefarious factions. And yet, instead of getting tossed in the slammer, they get a $90 million contract from, of all entities, the Department of Homeland Security. Which means that Microsoft, the DHS, the Mafia, and unspecified terrorists are all in on it together. Run! Hide!


 
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The above scene was taken from the 8/22/03 episode:

August 22, 2003: Another weeks passes by PowerBookless. Meanwhile, Apple's showing in ZDNet's back-to-school computer recommendations is decidedly uncharacteristic, and theories are running rampant linking the past two weeks' virus activity to organized crime and terrorism...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4159: The Rules Are For A REASON (8/22/03)   Well, here we are at the end of the week! So we should be seeing new PowerBooks any minute now. Yup. Any minute. (Glances at watch) ...Uh, yyyeah. Well, clearly something's gone slightly awry, because everyone from Think Secret to Mac OS Rumors to MacBidouille to this guy had been expecting new PowerBooks this week...

  • 4160: Pigs Above, Snow Below (8/22/03)   Quick, somebody get us something to hold on to, because everything's topsy-turvy! Up is down, black is white, Freddy vs. Jason garners eleven Academy Award nominations! Hey, it could happen...

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