No Hoax: Virus Hysteria Site to Shut Down

By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2003-07-09 Print this article Print
 , which has railed against vendor hype, misinformation and hoaxes, has run out of money and will soon go dormant.

A voice that has been shouting loudly for honesty and openness in the security industry is about to be silenced., a Web site that for eight years has railed against vendor hype, misinformation and hoaxes, has run out of money and, without a large cash infusion, will go dormant within the next few days. The site was founded in the mid-1990s by Eric Robichaud and Rob Rosenberger, an Air Force veteran who had grown tired of the wild-eyed hysteria surrounding computer viruses and decided to do something about it. Rosenberger had been following the anti-virus and security scene for several years and did not like what he saw: vendors scaring unwitting customers with the virtual bogeyman of viruses to goad them into buying anti-virus software, crazed predictions of the end of the Internet as we know it, and thousands upon thousands of gullible PC neophytes spamming each other with copies of the latest virus hoax.
Vmyths began as a repository of information on the myriad virus hoaxes, myths and general security-related weirdness that characterized the early days of the commercial Internet. But it has since evolved into an editorial-driven site on which Rosenberger and his small staff of professional skeptics use their wits and their wit to tear down the wall of FUD that many security vendors have erected around themselves.
"I think they make a valuable contribution to the AV industry in that they help to keep the hype down somewhat. I think there still is a need for that type of thing, but as with this sort of commentary in any field, they have got their enemies who would love to see them go away," said Paul Schmehl, an adjunct information security officer at the University of Texas at Dallas and one of the founders of the Anti Virus Information Exchange Network. As part of this crusade, Rosenberger has refused to accept any advertising from anti-virus companies or other security vendors. This has severely limited the pool of available ad revenue for the site and led to the current state of affairs. Not helping matters any is Rosenbergers imminent departure for the Persian Gulf, where hes been called up to active duty as an Air Force reservist. Not surprisingly, Rosenberger and his cronies, who include noted security guru George Smith, have annoyed large portions of the AV community. But many of these same virus experts see value in an independent site like Vmyths, however critical and caustic it may be. "Itll certainly be sad to lose it. It keeps the whole realm of virus and anti-virus in check, especially the more confusing side of hoaxes and fake malware," said Ian Hameroff, eTrust security strategist at Computer Associates International Inc., based in Islandia, N.Y. "I read it and take enjoyment from it. Id hate to see it go away." Although the staff will no longer update the site after mid-July, the Vmyths archive will remain online and Rosenberger said he hopes to revive the full site at some point in the future.

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