WiFUD, the phrase that pays

Tom tomwhore at slack.net
Thu Apr 10 14:01:59 PDT 2003

>From the always infromative boingboing.net

By Cory Doctorow

WiFUD: "security experts" report on the dangers of WiFi
Amazing bogus WiFi "security" study: Z/Yen set up two wireless access
points and monitored activity on them. They report that 25% of the
connections were "deliberate" (which, I assume, means made through
selecting the SSID instead of inadvertently associating with the network
because your card was set to connect to the strongest available signal)
and that 71% of the connected users sent email.

Fair enough -- that sounds like the right kind of numbers for me. I know
that my net-stumbling workflow consists of finding a network, fetching my
mail, moving on, answering my mail, finding another network, downloading
new mail and sending the reply email.

But the amazing thing is what Z/Yen and its client, RSA conclude: that the
25% of the people who deliberately associated with the network were
"malicious," and that the 71% who sent email were sending spam. This is
such a transparently, deliberately (heh) stupid conclusion, it boggles the
mind: how can "deliberate" equate to "malicious?" How can "sending email"
equate to "sending spam?"

We keep seeing this kind of WiFUD, and a lot of it comes from self-serving
"security experts."

These experts' motivation is rather transparent: if you are in the
business of selling security, you require customers who feel insecure.
WiFi, by dint of its novelty and popularity, is a predictable target for
shrill security warnings and a healthy source of potential revenue. We can
only hope that no one takes these dishonest conclusions at face value

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