Internet Worm Brings Down SCO! scream the headlines. No it doesn't! SCO Takes Down Own Website, Sets Up Alternative is more accurate -- although not without spending a couple of days conspicuously off the air, during which it issues sorrowful press releases bemoaning its fate. Why the break? Who knows. Not a good advert for the company's products, but a good clue that they see their business model as being a professionally aggrieved party rather than a software developer.
But little of this registers with the mainstream media. I do a quick phone interview on the World Service, and fortunately get enough time to explain some of the background -- although some questions prove unanswerable. "Is it the most virulent worm yet?" being one. How do you cope with that? "The darn thing spread well but probably won't do much DDoS damage," I said, "and is much the same as previous worms in many ways." You didn't answer the question, said the interviewer. Sigh. At least I get the 'If SCO is off the air it's because they want to be' point across, I think.
That doesn't seem to feed through to the rest of the BBC, let alone the rest of the world. The rampaging worm ("$30 billion damage done!" Yeah, right.) is poised to turn the entire developed world into rubble, if you believe the press. The BBC even publishes an article saying that the worm is part of the campaign of open-source supporters against SCO: anyone got Hutton's phone number?
Perhaps the sanest thing I hear is from Bruce Schneier, CTO of Counterpane and long-term voice of reason, whom Radio 5 has the good sense to stick on the air. He does a far superior job of debunking the rot. "Will terrorists use these worms?" asks the presenter. "No," says Schneier. "Terrorists blow up things. Worms are just annoying, like spray-painting graffiti. Terrorists don't go out spraying walls. Yeah, it's irritating, but that's all it is."
I wish I could feel the same way about mainstream tech reporting.