14 August 2006
Verisign, the intrepid Web security giant, issued an ominous warning in December. It predicted an imminent invasion by a worm called Sober, which would infect networks worldwide and clog up the Internet. It would be timed to coincide with the 87th anniversary of the founding of the Nazi party. Other firms joined in a chorus of worry, offering an abundance of soundbites for news outlets. Then in January dozens more reports, similarly circulated by security firms, warned that an e-mailed virus called Kama Sutra would ruin PCs from Seattle to Sri Lanka.
Neither outbreak ever occurred. Two small security software outfits claimed credit for blocking Kama Sutra, but Microsoft said later the threat was overblown. Vincent Weafer, who runs the security response division at Symantec, the world’s largest seller of antivirus software, concedes both threats were duds and that his rivals overhyped them. “To get attention, you pick something new and say the sky’s falling down,” he says.
Protecting yourself isn’t as easy as you would like, but it’s not hard either. Keep a level head, use common sense, and you’ll be fine.
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