Traditional media’s security stories could use some forethought

Spam, phishing and other internet security issues are increasingly being pounded by the mainstream press. Unfortunately for the press, these issues have been around for some time, meaning there are people outside their tight little circle who actually should be doing the talking (Spamroll excluded of course, and there is nothing remotely worth reading over here).

Nonetheless, I think the press should start thinking a bit more before they blab….

One recent example of a stellar goof is the IBM FairUCE story. CNN got the ball rolling by saying that IBM was going to be “spamming spammers.” Days later, it was still being covered that way, even though CNN had gotten it wrong.

Recently, Spamroll picked up on someone over at Fortune who was pissing and moaning about being victimized by a WiFi hack. If you read between the lines, you saw that this fellow was frequently hooking up to a neighbor’s unsecured access point, and that he was keeping all his passwords in a Word document on his hard drive. Ok, someone needs to read Computer Security for Dummies.

Now, Brian McWilliams posts this little piece about a report over at USATODAY.com. The original author thinks spammers may just die on their own because merchants will decide not to work with them. He completely misses the direct sales opportunities many spammers exploit, as well as the fact that it takes really sleezy ISPs to host them in the first place. McWilliams pointed some of this stuff out, and now the guy has capitulated (well kind of).

This is a public issue, and the public deserves more than a little gobbledegook. Misinformation in this space is going to cost money. The mainstream press needs to get their stories straight, or let someone else lead.

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