[ISN] Vmyths Hovering at Death's Door

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jul 07 2003 - 00:10:32 PDT

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    By Michelle Delio 
    July 03, 2003
    One of the Web's best FUD-fighting sites may not be around much 
    FUD -- which stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt -- is a marketing 
    technique. Stir up enough FUD about some scary threat and people might 
    feel compelled to buy your product to protect themselves from 
    impending doom. 
    FUD about computer security abounds, both on the Web and off. One 
    website, Vmyths, focuses on debunking marketing-promoted rumors and 
    media-fueled myths about computer viruses, cyberterrorism and computer 
    But barring a miracle of the financial sort, Vmyths, which draws 
    thousands of visitors a day, may soon be all but dead. 
    It will remain online, but won't be updated after Vmyths' founder and 
    prime contributor Rob Rosenberger heads off to serve a military stint 
    in the Persian Gulf in mid-July. 
    "Rob is one of those lone voices in the wilderness. I agree with about 
    70 percent of what he says, but I'll defend to the death, as it were, 
    his right to say it," said Robert Ferrell, a security consultant. 
    "He's definitely made an indelible impression on the anti-FUD 
    movement, and the loss of Vmyths will be sorely felt by those of us 
    who fight that fight." 
    Rosenberger, who has shined the bright light of sarcasm into every 
    dark corner of the computer security industry since 1995, believes 
    Vmyths' independent and contentious nature is probably what lead to 
    its demise. 
    "People don't pay for criticism and they don't pay for independence. 
    The problem is, who will fork over a few bucks? We slaughter a cash 
    cow every time we refuse to run antivirus ads." 
    Rosenberger refuses to accept advertisements from antivirus and 
    computer security firms, fearing they would compromise Vmyths' 
    independence. And he's been unsuccessful in finding a neutral 
    corporate sponsor to support the site. 
    Vmyths also suffers from the same problems experienced by other sites: 
    People are apparently unwilling to pay for information on the Web. A 
    recent fund-raising plea to Rosenberger's 20,000-plus mailing-list 
    subscribers was not successful. 
    "I'd pressed Rob to do a fund-raiser for some time and he finally 
    agreed to it," said Vmyths editor George Smith. "But Rob's distaste 
    for marketing himself made it a watery request that netted around a 
    couple hundred dollars." 
    "One could have earned more money in the same time standing on a 
    corner, dressed up like a bum, with a 'Please help the homeless' 
    Despite the dismal show of financial support, Vmyths is widely 
    respected in the security industry. 
    "Vmyths (is) a major voice in the struggle to bring sanity to the 
    Internet security industry," said Richard Forno, an independent 
    computer security consultant. "Rob's clever site serves as one of the 
    few voices of reason, sanity and reality-based analysis in a world 
    polluted by incessant knee-jerk, gloom-and-doom soundbyte prophecies 
    coming from those with the least insight into how the Information Age 
    actually works." 
    Rosenberger isn't surprised at Vmyths unsuccessful struggle to find a 
    sponsor. He believes that many people -- government officials, 
    security solution vendors and the press -- have a vested financial 
    interest in keeping alarmist security myths alive. 
    "The computer security industry is a media circus. It's filled with 
    clowns who want to siphon billions of dollars of counterterrorism 
    funds so the Keystone Cops can shield us from Osama bin Virus," 
    Rosenberger said. 
    "Prostitute pundits stand fearlessly on the corners of New York City 
    and compare 'cyberterrorism' to real terrorism. They stand fearlessly 
    on the corners of Washington, D.C. and compare 'cyberwar' to real war. 
    They pull numbers out of thin air and tell whoppers with a perfectly 
    straight face. They want us to blame everything but them when they 
    fail to do what we pay them for." 
    Still, Rosenberger was sanguine about the site's seemingly impending 
    "I'm only bummed by the fact that no one at Vmyths has received a 
    salary in over a year," Rosenberger said. 
    And in typical Rosenberger fashion, he also warned that rumors of 
    Vmyths' death may be widely exaggerated. 
    Vmyths may become subscription-based, as Smith has suggested. 
    "Screw the dumbfounded majority," Smith said. 
    "The idea of Vmyths is solid: We need independent criticism in the 
    computer security industry," Rosenberger added. "Vmyths may simply be 
    ahead of its time. If so, then we might shut down certain functions 
    until they prove viable again. 
    "To quote Matrix Reloaded: There are levels of survival we are 
    prepared to accept." 
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