Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Well, They Whiffed On That One

CBS Evening News did a segment last night on the report from Kaspersky, and to say that it was a swing and a miss would be a horrendous understatement. They missed the point of that report so badly that one would have to say that they swung the bat before the ball even left the pitcher’s hand, and would have to add that they did the classic spin themselves around and fall down at the plate. I think the pitcher balked and fell down laughing.

CBS went on at great length about the millions of dollars that were stolen, how balances were changed on accounts, and how the “hackers” would have ATMs spit out money at certain times and have people standing by to grab the $20 bills as they came flying out of the slot. Seriously.

Do you know how many man-hours would be involved in stealing the $1 billion that CBS claimed by changing individual balances, transferring amounts from those individual accounts and, for God’s sake, having bike messengers standing at ATMs collecting $20 bills? That would be a very lengthy ongoing enterprise, and they did that for all that time without getting caught? Nobody noticed the dudes hanging around the ATMs waiting for them to start spitting out money?

They actually said that “the hackers would program ATMs to spit out money at certain times, and then have someone there to collect the money.” Really. If they had claimed that they programed the ATM in a manner that would allow an accomplice to enter a code and withdraw unlimited funds, I might believe that, but to have it “spit out money” at a fixed time without assurance that it would, in fact, be collected is absurd, and ATMs do not hold all that much money in any case. Stealing money from ATMs is strictly small time stuff.

Now you can read an article in Reuters, another one in PC World and yet another one in Times of India, all of which are about the Kaspersky report and none of which mention monetary theft at all. What they do say is that Kaspersky discovered spyware in the hard drives of millions of computers which was undoubtedly placed there by NSA for the purpose of spying on behalf of the US government. The monetary theft, if it even happened at all, was a trivial sideline. The actual story was the ability of the NSA to plant spyware in the hard drive operating software of so many computers.

CBS forgot to mention that. They never mentioned NSA or the US government at all, but rather came up with this buffoonery about a $1 billion theft consisting of ATMs spitting out $20 bills. “Bonnie and Clyde would have been so proud,” Scott Pelley closed. Yeah, and Harpo Marx would have been embarrassed by Scott Pelley.

Update, (PS) 9:55am: The content of the piece struck me as bogus even as I was watching it last evening, but then when I went online and read the more objective articles today and realized the degree to which CBS was engaging in puffery and propaganda, I had to laugh out loud. And they are actually critical of Brian Williams.

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