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Crying Wolf

One of the "Reprints" in the latest Cryto-Gram is Crying Wolf from July 2003. It starts by talking about the problems with FUD and computer security, and then brings in how that's paralleled the government. Not only did people start ignoring the threat level colors, they started openly mocking it. It seems things haven't gotten any better, so I think it's a good article to bring up again.

By Lo on 2006/07/17 at 07:22:26

I was so among the many who mocked it for a long time. Then mocking it got boring, and I've stopped noticing it altogether. I read this article awhile back, and I loved it then. It's still good. I've often said that unless they tell us what it is they expect us to do about a raised threat level, there's no point in having it. (And I especially enjoyed the part about duct tape and plastic sheeting. Mostly because I refused to do it. I said to myself, "Self. If the air can get in under my doors and windows, it can get in through my air conditioning unit and other venting systems. If it doesn't get in, I'll probably die from using up all the air anyway. And I highly doubt duct tape and plastic are going to form an airtight seal around my whole apartment.") BS. You gotta love it.

By Jeremy on 2006/07/17 at 10:54:19

Yea, that duct tape and plastic really depends on the threat I say. In many buildings the windows and doors would be sufficient for basic stuff, as individual air conditioners and such shouldn't be passing much air through. Newer buildings with central systems would need that blocked too though. Back to the threats, if it's a weaponized agent of some sort, it's likely that there's no practical way to isolate on your own, but it's bad PR to say "Sorry, you can't do anything. If they attack you'll probably die." On the flip side, as Jeff said for many things it's just to limit air movement. If it's at a low enough level the threat may either dissipate before enough leaks in to hurt you, or your immune system can fight it off. If the conditions are right and you're lucky, it may even end up being like a vaccine.

By Lo on 2006/07/19 at 08:30:35

To quote Jayne "I smell a lotta 'if' coming offa this plan."

I'm not saying that it might not help (and I guess I didn't know that it was part of our bird flu plan, which lends it a little more credibility in my mind than it did back when it was first introduced). I am saying that it probably wouldn't be the save us all solution that they promote it to be. Not that duct tape isn't a good product. It held our combine together for many years. I just think they promote it as more of a life line than it will probably end up being, mostly so there isn't widespread panic in the streets.

I guess it kind of seems like if the thing is so deadly that it's going to seep through cracks in my window and kill me, then I don't see how it won't get in from other places that I don't even know are there. I mean, you use plastic sheeting on your windows in the winter (at least where I used to live), but the cold still gets in. Maybe that's different. I don't pretend to know.

I'm not an expert, so I'm not going to pretend that I know more than the people who are doing the planning, but part of me pretty much thinks they just want people to feel like they're doing something, and they want people to stay at home while they're feeling that they're doing something, thus, plastic sheeting and duct tape. And if it happens to actually work, so much the better.

By jeff on 2006/07/17 at 08:43:57

The duct tape and plastic wasn't so much to create an air tight seal but to limit air flow as much as possible. Also the plastic was meant for the venting systems as well as the doors and windows. I know plastic and duct tape gets a mention or two in the Pan Flu plan in the state. Trust me, we do have experts here working on precautionary measures.

By jeff on 2006/07/19 at 09:46:54

Scratch the bird flu and plastic/duct tape solution. The plastic/tape is actually from our BT (bioterrorism) plan. We have too many plans that they all sort of run together. The flu will be more direct person to person transmission. That plan involves staying in your house and away from people for like 6 months. Chance of someone actually being able to do that?? 0%.

By Lo on 2006/07/20 at 07:39:30

Not to mention the fact that probably it will get all around the world before anybody knows it's started. And they won't be able to create a vaccine for something like 6 months, isn't it?

By jeff on 2006/07/20 at 09:35:52

A specific vaccine for bird flu would take about 6 months or so. A month or two to deconstruct the virus genetically and build a vaccine and then a few months to grow it in large lots. Flu vaccine is grown in chicken egg parts.

The google ads on this page are really interesting by the way. For me it is advertising terrorist profiles and video confessions at Guantanamo.

By Jeremy on 2006/07/20 at 09:44:49

Huh. For me it's showing Attack Trees and IDS services, and Infrastructure protection. I wonder if part of the selection process is based on requesting address.

By jeff on 2006/07/20 at 11:50:54

yup, me too. I'll add bioterrorism another time and see what happens. Okay, another one for good measure... BIOTERRORISM.

By Jeremy on 2006/07/23 at 00:29:40

Found this as another example of people mocking the system.