Y2K again? Beware the boy who cried wolf

Y2K again? Beware the boy who cried wolf

Summary: Is our penchant for drama leading to a day when we no longer care about impending technological disasters?

TOPICS: Security

This week, there was a massive fuss about turning off FBI servers that were servicing DNSChanger victims. I haven't seen such hype since the Y2K bug.

All kinds of mayhem were predicted back then, but none ever occurred.

Perhaps the concerns were groundless, or maybe it was because we were all so well prepared.

Early this week, excitable warnings were made that around 1000 computers in New Zealand and 6000 in Australia would no longer be able to receive the internet from Monday afternoon.

We got warnings from the government, we got warnings from government agencies. Security software firms contacted me to say that their country manager was keen to talk.

Telecom New Zealand also put out advice on how to cope.

But, in the end, nothing happened.

As I said, it was just like the Y2K Millennium bug all over again. The funny thing was, just like they were then, people were happy to be warned.

Better to be forewarned and forearmed, they say, even if the threats come to nothing.

A British weatherman once gained infamy by dismissing predictions of a hurricane before the Great Storm of 1987 brought mass devastation.

Since then, I have noticed, weather forecasts have tended to err on the dramatic side, just in case.

You can say the same about warnings concerning technology in general.

I have been writing about cyberterrorism this week, and again I was given dramatic predictions about the threats, possibly so that we pay attention and prepare for it.

Of course, experts must beware how far they go with the hype they give. They need to recall the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". If there are too many false alarms, we may stop listening.

Topic: Security

Darren Greenwood

About Darren Greenwood

Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.

Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

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  • Drama means page views

    I think we all need to recognize that the more dramatic a headline, the more likely the article will be retweeted and shared on Facebook or picked up by the more traditional media.

    Headlines like "Internet Rapture Day is Nigh" are more likely to generate page views (and revenue) than headlines like "Won't affect you, but an interesting story about the FBI's take over of a clickjacking network"

    Note: I really wanted to write a piece with that first headline, but I thought that DNSChanger was already getting more attention than it merited. After all, everyone who would be affected was warned for months. (I ran for a few days using the bogus DNS servers just to see all of the warnings on sites like Google and Facebook.)


  • W2K and DNSChanger were not duds.....

    The reason was all the fixes were applied to all affected systems so that IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN!!!! So after all the patches and fixes were applied, very few systems failed. The patches and fixes did their jobs. Now you claim that these were scares??? Nothing "exciting" happened because of the fixes so now skeptics claim that the boy crying wolf was wrong all along. Or would you rather we ignore those warnings and let all the systems crash. Give us a break!!!
    linux for me
    • Agree

      The news outlets don't quite get the idea these were real problems earlier on that simply got fixed in time for the most part.
  • Y2k hoax

    "Perhaps the concerns were groundless, or maybe it was because we were all so well prepared."

    No, the claims were defintely groundless
    • Not sure if you're being facetous

      but all that "hoax" money that changed hands back then to remedy things says otherwise.