Re: [ISN] Teen Hacker Packs Feminist Punch (fwd)

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Apr 29 2002 - 02:16:18 PDT

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    Forwarded from: rferrellat_private
    > Forwarded from: Ben Greenbaum <bgreenbaumat_private> 
    > I have a lot of respect for Mr. Ferrell, but at this point I have to
    > call shenanigans...
    > Merriam-Webster defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror
    > especially as a means of coercion". The American HeritageŽ
    > Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines it as
    > "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person
    > or an organized group against people or property with the intention
    > of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for
    > ideological or political reasons." Nowhere could I find a definition
    > of terrorism that included "annoying people by messing with their
    > mp3 files."
    > We need to be careful to be precise in our usage of emotionally
    > loaded terms, lest our entire industry become equated with FUD. We
    > need to refrain from calling things by names which they aren't.
    > Bronchitis is bad. Bronchitis is not cancer. Viruses are bad.  
    > Viruses in general are not terrorism.
    Fair enough. Let me try to explain my thinking with a little
    Given that
    A) Viruses have no constructive use outside a very closely controlled
    laboratory setting.  They are designed, quite simply, to harm systems
    upon which they are loaded.  Giving someone a virus is an attack upon
    their system, and this usually equates to a personal attack in the
    mind of the victim.  Ask any sysadmin who's had mass infections and
    spent months trying to recover lost data whether or not viruses are
    terrorism.  The DoD classifies viruses as potential weapons of war.
    B) People who are the recipients of attacks usually experience strong
    negative emotions in association with those attacks.  These negative
    emotions could reasonably be classified as "terror," at least in some
    C) If people who are attacked by a virus are terrorized, then the
    person responsible for disseminating, and by logical extension the
    author of the virus, is guilty of a form of terrorism.  There is
    nothing far-fetched about someone threatening to release a virus
    unless certain conditions are met.
    Terrorism is relative to the victim.  If you are terrorized by an
    action, it is terrorism.  If you're not, it isn't.  Remember that
    dictionaries are there to provide a commonality of reference, not as
    ironclad arbiters of terminology in a fluid semantic environment.  A
    dictionary is, at best, a static representation of a dynamic process,
    at least insofar as actively evolving technologies and sociological
    phenomena are concerned.  Take the word 'hacker,' for example.  I've
    mostly given up trying to maintain the old meaning of the term because
    a large part of the rest of society has decided to redefine it.  I
    don't like it, but it's pointless to pretend that the English language
    isn't evolving (almost) as quickly as technology.
    My actual point in the preceding post, BTW, was to chastise anyone who
    seeks to glorify or otherwise excuse the behavior being portrayed, not
    to generate a debate on the meaning of terrorism.  In fact, I
    definitely agree that words like "cyberterrorism" have been grossly
    misapplied.  I think most ISN readers can decide for themselves
    whether or not writing viruses constitutes terrorism for them.
    I know it scares the heck out of me.
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