Monday, January 16, 2012

Language, NYTimes, the language

From the buried lede department, here's the second to last paragraph in a NYT article about some websites in Israel being broken into and defaced:

"Right now, we're not seeing anything that's especially interesting or especially dangerous," said Gadi Evron, former head of Internet security for the Israeli government.

What the NYT chose to run (via the AP) as their actual lede:

A hacker network that claims to be based in Saudi Arabia paralyzed the websites of Israel's stock exchange and national airline on Monday, escalating an international cyber war that has jolted this security-obsessed country.

[...] But the ongoing salvos by hackers who use anti-Israel language in their posts has revealed how vulnerable Israel is to cyber warfare, despite its sophisticated computer security units in the military and advanced high-tech sector.

Emph. added.

Point one: The authors of the article show little evidence of knowing anything about those who broke in, apart from what the supposed group supposedly claimed. Point two: much of the space in the article, right after the above lede, is taken up by describing not this incident, but another one that happened in the past. Point three: I doubt the AP or the NYT would say graffiti on a church counted as "escalating religious warfare" or bricks through a window should be described as "showing vulnerability to kinetic warfare."

For all we know, Mr. Ian Leitch et al, this "hacker network" is a bunch of bright, bored kids. You've presented no evidence, in other words, that these website intrusions were carried out by a military, government intelligence, or even quasi-military group. And by your own (grudging) admission, no sensitive sites were compromised. So calm down.


[Added] This is not to say that locking down insecure websites isn't important. It is. But we ought to keep things in perspective.

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