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Prankster Spoofs President Clinton in CNN Online Chat 244

According to this Fox News piece, during a highly-publicized CNN.com chat with U.S. President Bill Clinton, a chatter managed to log in with the username "President Clinton" and respond to another user's question with the answer, "Personally, I'd like to see more porn on the Internet, Wolf; how about you?" The comment was pulled almost immediately by a moderator, and the bogus Clinton was kicked off in about 20 seconds. CNN seems pretty miffed over the incident. I guess online identity spoofing isn't as common on CNN as it is on Slashdot. For more info about this little stunt, see the prankster's own page, which tells you exactly how he did it -- and why it was so easy.
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Prankster Spoofs President Clinton in CNN Online Chat

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  • An atempt to display the true nature of our own president is met with disdain. Who says that imitation is the greatest form of flattery?
  • What a shame that they can't manipulate their on-line content as effectively as they can their broadcast "coverage".

    CNN-Clinton News Network

    Between this and being DoS-bitchslapped, they must be wondering why they ever decided to make the Faustian venture onto the Internet...

  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @06:53PM (#1275384) Homepage
    at least, according to the guy's statement. How could it have let him log in with the (presumably) reserved ID for the typist is beyond me.

    Hope CNN recognizes this as what it is, an exploit of a technically bogus program rather than an all-out attack on truth, justice, and the American Way...but I doubt it.

  • gee, im almost happy, he's had to drop to my level...if only i had the power

  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @06:54PM (#1275386) Journal
    Last time the President went online, the moderators filtered out any question that even smacked of controversy. The questions were such softballs they bordered on brown-nosing.

    If you get the chance to barge into a chat with Clinton, instead of spoofing, how about doing what no reporter seems to dare and asking him a hard question?

    What ever happened to holding the President to high scrutiny?
  • by JackiePatti ( 115651 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:01PM (#1275389) Homepage
    I nearly died laughing when I read this.

    You know why it's REALLY funny? Cause being online used to be about being silly and having fun, not about politics and money and stuff.

    Years ago, I figured out how to spoof on an old BBS by putting a certain number of spaces, and then From UserName:

    This one guy who used to login who took himself entirely too seriously, I used to "make" him ask to be forcibly cross-dressed and "confess" that he had just wet his pants. I can't tell you how long this went on before he figured out it was me.

    Damn... that same old spirit... and who could be a more fitting target than Clinton.

  • Good idea! McCain suggested today that Presidents should undergo barely-moderated weekly questioning, like the Prime Minister of England. I used to watch M. Thatcher bust a move all over whatzisname with the fuzzy sweaters-Neil Kinnock. That was excellent. Can you imagine members of Congress grilling Clinton every week on national television? Yes!
  • So, CNN decides to try something new. Online interview. Sounds neat. They even get President Clinton. It's a good way to help the acceptance of the Internet as a daily part of life along.

    And then, some dip decides that now is a great time to make his little statement about .

    Good work, genius. Why didn't you drop an email to CNN's people, letting them know about this problem?

    Of course not, because that wouldn't give you a chance to put up a "Look how cool I am!" web page.

    Heck, the guy practically praises the event at the beginning of the article, calling it "a reasonable attempt to integrate two media".

    So, if it was so reasonable, why did you feel the need to screw around with it?

    Christ, people, if we ever want to stop this idea that all computer people are "hacker doodz", then we need to stop acting like five year olds whenever the chance might present itself.
  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:06PM (#1275394)
    ... is so soft on a sitting president. Never in history have journalists been so complementary of the prez. Almost like the editor expects positive stories about Clinton and censors bad ones. Just look what happened to Paul Sperry (journalist who asked Clinton about that China scandal) -- he was banned from Whitehouse for even asking something like that. Ludicrous!

    About time he got heckled a bit...

    BTW: Sperry was hired by the last bastillion of the (big corporate)free press: WorldNetDaily. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_exnews/200002 08_xex_wnd_hires_pa.shtml

    GroundAndPound.com [groundandpound.com] News and info for martial artists of all styles.
  • by OnyxRaven ( 9906 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:06PM (#1275395) Homepage
    I find this exceedingly amusing because it is the PERFECT example of how poorly the mass media researches and checks their facts. Not a hack, hardly even a spoof. This is a problem directly with Conference Room, which works under small loads, but not under large ones.

    Conference Room even has a 'NickServ' and 'ChanServ', making it easy to check if the president's typist has the correct password before voicing it. Nevermind the quick voice and devoice of someone under the nick President_C|inton. I'm not at all suprised someone under the same nick got voiced right away.

    It's all just so amusing. His site is a good explanation of what happened - though the logs are a bit confusing.

  • From the guy's 'statement:'
    I hope that this harmless prank has served to let CNN know that this system is insecure and needs to be overhauled ...

    As opposed to giving the public the impression that net-savvy computer geeks are all immature hacker-types? Excellent.
    There's a fine line between identification of security flaws and abuse of power.
    "Ladies and gentlemen, this is NPR! And that means....it's time for a drum solo!"
  • Christ, people, if we ever want to stop this idea that all computer people are "hacker doodz", then we need to stop acting like five year olds whenever the chance might present itself.

    Take the stick out of your ass, this was funny. My only regret is that I didn't think of it.

    Did you ever think that not everyone should be on the internet? The more clueless morons we get here, the more of a call for regulation there will be.

  • by Rahoule ( 144525 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:12PM (#1275403)

    I certainly don't condone what this guy did, but I'm appalled at the results -- the authorities denouncing it as a "hack" and "cybervandalism" are taking the usual attitude I've seen. To quote another Slashdot reader, "Someone says to the emperor, 'Sir, you have no clothes,' and boy is the emperor pissed!"

    Do any of you remember the Hotmail "hack" from summer 1999? You could read other people's mail, simply by knowing their Hotmail email address -- no password required! Similarly, this guy was able to impersonate the president without any password.

    If you (1) implement the best security you have and you do your homework and lock down your servers, and your system still gets cracked, well, you did the best you could. But if you (2) make no effort to implement security, or just leave all the default accounts and passwords on the server, and you get cracked, you'll get no sympathy from me, or anyone else.

    Don't get me wrong. This guy shouldn't have done what he did, but CNN has no right to call it a "hack" or "cybervandalism" if they made no effort to prevent it.

    I really hate it when case (2) occurs, and the "victims" start screaming bloody murder. Honestly, I'll bet the sysadmin of that IRC server leaves his front door unlocked a lot.

  • Did he even see it? I'm sure someone was reading the questions to him. Nobody can look cool while reading. Think of how stupid local newscasters look when they're obviously reading the teleprompter. They aparently ignored the event while it was going on, but I'll bet that Clinton laughed his butt off when he found out.

  • Oh, get over yourself.

    What big, bad result was there to this "abuse of power"?

    A bunch of people were wildly entertained for a few minutes. Big furry deal.

  • CNN _does_ realize this. The Fox story he linked to says that CNN claim they were not hacked, etc. Fox is trying to say that they _were_ hacked, presumably to make them look bad. Remember, that's the same fox (AFAIK) who had (they've fixed it now. Ummm, yay, I'm so glad I can look at it now:) their web page (fox.com) not accessable to people who aren't running windoze of mac.
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • DALnet and Undernet have these features.

    Take it from a former administrator, though - DALnet is LAME.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • I don't think this was an attempt to be 31337, I believe it was an example of how important security is, and how unstable closed-source IRC servers are :-).

    I just wonder where roblimo got the link to this guy's page on this. This is the part that worries me, because no nick is given for the source, as usual. Maybe it did become a 'lookie what I did'.

    ... but then Fox news lumps this in with the widespread DoS attacks. This comes from a lack of research and/or understanding of what REALLY goes on. blah.

    then again, i contradict myself. :-/

  • ... chances are, it'll be all over the news tomorrow: "CNN chat with the President hacked". Why not, they did the same thing with this whole Yahoo etc DDoS attack.

    Although, the AP article i read in the local paper was pretty funny Friday. "A trojan program, known as a daemon, ..." "The daemons arrive at the victim with a fake return address." And i thought 'daemon' was a generic name for a program in the background providing a service, not a specific term for a DDoS tool or synonym for a 'packet'...

    Anyone who doesn't understand 'hack' as defined in The Jargon File [tuxedo.org] please stop reading now. Thank you. This just might qualify under sense 5, being a practical joke taking advantake of shortcomings in the CNN chatserver...


  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdot@nOsPAM.krwtech.com> on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:17PM (#1275412) Journal
    mailed to comments@foxnews.com [mailto]

    Let me start by saying that I'm an avid FoxNews viewer and am usually pleased with the reporting. However, in your article online regarding the CNN chat with Clinton, I see very poor journalism. You quote several unnamed "experts" that said the disruption was a "hack". Firstly, if you look at the IRC protocol, RFC 1459, specifically section 4.1.2, you would notice that IRC allows one to change their nickname to anything they want. Because CNN chose poor IRC server software, they have several moments which knocked off all of the users and required them to reconnect. Because they had no security restricting who could own the nick President_Clinton, they were open to someone impersonating him. Because CNN chose poor software and didn't bother to install any type of security, there was no hacking needed.

    In related news, I found the television reports on the "hacking" of major online powerhouses to be filled with buzzwords and little content. PLEASE, if you're going to report technical news, have someone who knows modern technology report it. At least go down to the server room and as one of your network administrators before running a story. Of course, with the mail problems over the last week, I'm not sure they know much anyways... they don't seem to know about things like redundant servers.

    Find the FACTS, then report, so we can decide. Also, I'd like to see a report on the DeCSS lawsuits filed by the MPAA and DVDCCA in recent months, and not just from the MPAA's side.

  • except that this abuse of power was so simple a ten year old could have done it. This guy brought a lot of attention to the problem. That will ensure that it is taken seriously, before someone with more sinister intentions has a chance to exploit it.
  • by JustShootMe ( 122551 ) <rmiller@duskglow.com> on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:19PM (#1275414) Homepage Journal

    He should have come on with the nick "Monica_Lewinsky" and submitted a whole bunch of questions:

    • "So, Handsome, do you like me in my new commercials?"
    • "I probably should finally get around to cleaning that dress, huh?"
    • "Bill! You're so good! oooooooohhhhh!"
    • "So, did you finally divorce that... oh, hi, Hillary...

    I mean, come on. If you're going to do something, do it all the way :-)

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • See my post below for details...
  • Same deal here in the True North. Some time is taken out each day so the opposition parties can grill the government on whatever scandals the feds are trying to cover up.

    Question Period doesn't get watched as much as it should. When I do see clips of QP, or even run across it on C-PAC (Canada's C-SPAN clone), I'm usually treated to the sickeningly satisfying sight of government ministers dancing around hard questions tossed like hand grenades from the mouths of the opposition. You never get a straight answer, but you get to see the people in power run, dissemble, dodge questions, cover their asses in legalese, and even spew outright lies, just to get the damn question out of the way.

    Not to ignore normal Parliamentary sessions and their provincial counterparts...bickering, heckling, posturing, yelling, stomping, and once in a while theatrical protest! It's like kindergarten for grown-ups. Somehow, stuff gets done (mainly because the government party can push every piece of legislation through. The opposition's there for embarrassment value.)

    Tangent: When I see Congressmen or Senators speaking on U.S. TV, they're usually dull, proper, and not exactly forceful, save for a few firebrands. Meanwhile, in Canada...once, while watching the Corrections Minister bark out a point, two old farts on the opposite side could be heard booing. Booing! In the legislature! During normal sessions! Another incident saw a member of the opposition, then run by Quebec separtists, remove a chair from the chamber and keep it for two weeks. It's more entertaining than, say, WCW.

    I'm not sure this kind of system could work in the land of the free. Hell-raising Congressmen and Senators might enjoy it too much.

    Oh, and we have senators too, but they don't do much besides sleep and suck money.
  • How could a red blooded American male pass up that opportunity. That's like making a fart noise with your armpit, but instead of just a 30 person class, you get the western world as your audience. It wasn't a premeditated, mean spirited thing, the guy saw a chance, and was as suprised as anyone when it let him change his nick. I thought he did a pretty good job under the circumstances. The Howard Stern fan that got a phone call into a Q&A with Prince Charles asked something like "I heard you put your head up a bear's ass". This guy didn't say anything "dirty". He just poked fun at the idea that our President porn surfs and questioned Wolf Blitzer about his feelings on the subject. No harm, no foul. If CNN or the US gov goes after this guy, I will be very disappointed.

  • Looking at the guys page, Fox are the only ones who have called this a hack. CNN, and this guy, are calling it a prank. CNN are calling it a prank for damage control as much as anything else presumably, but they still recognise it's a prank. And Fox calling it a hack to tie this event back to the DOS attacks on CNN, one guesses to make CNN look bad. From the Fox article: The incident Monday was the latest in a recent wave of cyber-vandalism that has already targeted CNN.com once before, as well as major commercial sites such as eBay, Amazon.com, and Yahoo!

  • hahaha. this reminds me of a time in about 1995, when the (canadian version of) The Discovery Channel had a live online chat on the internet, possibly with some scientist or something, but possibly just with the web-happy lady (mara/nara/mala something like that)..
    anyways, it was live on tv, and they were showing the real-time chat on the tv.. i was sitting at my computer at the time, so i joined the irc channel.. suddenly someone started posting a bunch of anti-micro$oft stuff, and they discontinued the live chat, "there is someone ruining it for everyone else here, by forcing their views on everyone in the channel" hehehe. they didn't even call it a flame or a flood or anything, didn't have a clue! :)
    Micro$oft Sucks!
    Micro$oft Sucks!
    Micro$oft Sucks!
    over and over.. heheheh.

  • Back in late 95 through very late 96, I worked at CNN Interactive. One of the fun things I got to do toward the end of my time there was moderate online chats.

    The system we used, it was HORRID. It was so horrid, I can't even remember the NAME of it. It was quite prevalent at the time - and it did act as a 'normal' IRC server for those folks who wanted to connect up directly.

    The nastiest chat I had to deal with was with Magic Johnson. We had to have two typists (one for Magic, one for the talking head anchor guy), two moderators to catch questions and forward on good ones to me, whereupon I'd pick out the best and sling'em out for the guys to chat about, ooh fun.

    Moderating a chat like that can be VERY stressful... especially when this dingbat producer pulls a very good typist off "Magic's" computer and puts on this gal who is practically a two-finger hunt-and-peck typist, just because he wanted to "spread the fun around". I won't go into how many hangers-on crowded into the conference room to schmooze with each other while the chat/interview went on. Ugh.
  • Huh, There's no mention of this on the CNN site. I can't help but wonder what would've happened if the prankster wouldn't have made a statement that was quite so obvious. How long could he have fooled people?
  • DALnet was pimping Conference Room for a while, because they sold their souls to Webmaster. Unfortunately, Conference Room is the biggest piece of shit IRC server ever thrust from the bowels of a company onto the face of an unsuspecting planet (not only because it runs on NT, either.) The person who spoofed Clinton is right: had they used a _real_ chat server that could handle the load, none of this would've happened.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Good letter. I have not even seen much coverage on the DVD issues (though i could be a bit off since I don't read/watch much mass news).

    Like I said earlier, Conference Room has a NickServ and ChanServ to prevent someone from changeing the nick. Hell, Conference Room has those lines in the .conf files that will prevent anyone but a certain address from using nicks. I forget the line label though :-).

    Heh, I also like your last line, using their own words against them hehe.

  • Is this true, or is this troll... erm... spewing?

    My understanding was that no information has logged on anon. cowards, including IPs?

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • if you haven't read the Fox article, I suggest you do. It's pathetic. This is my e-mail

    Subject: Bad, Bad Fox

    To whom it may concern (and somebody better read this)

    One of your web pages http://www.foxnews.com/vtech/021400/hack.sml, contains extremely erroneous information. The quote "Several experts, however, said the disruption was almost certainly a hack. The experts said it would have been impossible for anyone to give a false answer for Clinton without deliberately bypassing chat room security measures. " is totally incorrect. I suggest you take a look at the explanation (http://www.boredom.org/cnn/), talk to those experts again (I'd avoid the AntiOnline crackpots) and quickly amend your story.

    To contend that this attack has ANY relation to the recent denial of service attacks is ludicrous. I'd expect such sensationalism from NBC, but I hoped you guys were above it.

    If this story is left as is I will discontinue my Fox.com or Fox News Channel patronage, as I cannot condone such shabby fact checking.


    Actually I used my real name, but whatever. This story is HORRIBLE, it ties the CNN "hack" (a hack only in the sense [tf.hut.fi] (def #5) we would use) to the recent DDoS (with an interesting bit about the Bank's secret Don't Ask Don't Tell pact), and finally to some kid changing grades on report cards. The kid's explanation. "I did it to show them I could."

  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @07:33PM (#1275428) Homepage
    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

    First. There's no way you could have known this without doing it.

    Second, you are taking the Internet WAY too seriously. It's justs bits people. Big deal. (I'll for go my IRC bastards rant for now)

    Frankly it's about time the Masses realize that the computers don't emitt Smartness-Radiation and that a dope infront of a TTY is still just a dope.
  • We were just discussing it on #slashdot (irc.slashnet.org) and generally agreed that we could have done a far better job with the Clinton chat than CNN did. For real.

    - Robin
  • Well for starters I think the prank itself was funny as hell. As someone up above said it reminds me of the good old days when being online was about having a good time, not about business and politics. After reading news stories about the prank though, and particulary the comments by the Real Bill Clinton (tm) concerning the Internet and his understanding of it, I got really depressed. Evidently he only ever uses the net for ebay and amazon (and probably porn but who would admit that on a CNN interview?) and that he doesn't really understand it. Yet he felt qualified to sign the DMCA, both CDAs and other Internet legislation. Does this bother anyone else? The internet is arguably the most important new communications medium since the railroad was invented or the first telegraph lines were laid. I mean really, he's not qualified to make descisions about the internet, or any other high tech issues (like the DMCA) I know it's only a pipe dream but it would be nice if we could elect specialized leaders, ie, one body of government that dealt with purely internal matters, another that dealt with foreign affairs, and another for technology issues ect.. so each body has an elected president that is presumably qualified for the task at hand. For example, ESR would make a great technology president but would probably be weak in foreign affiars and trade relations. The government as a whole would still need one central leader to act in times of crisis and to arbitrate disputes between the various mini-governents whenever their paths cross, but would have very little daily administration type of stuff to do.
    Ahh hell what do i know, just talking outta my ass. ;->
  • wish we could put ours to sleep.

  • nick collide impersonation trick... How fun. Too bad he didn't ride a net split and take ops on the channel. *Grin*

    The sad thing is that this might scare CNN away from using something standard and open like IRC and into using some messed up AOL chat program. Oh well... Any ideas how we can help them prevent this from happening again?

  • Yeah, it's always impressive to watch the PMQ from Westminister or Ottawa (thanks, C/SPAN).

    As much as I dislike Blair (truly a fascist, one who's looking to sign rights away to the highest bidder -- much scarier than President Bubba) or Chretien, their ability to spar with the opposition, extemporaneously, is impressive.

    I wish that we'd adopt a parlimentary system here in the US of A; sure, it'd be more representative and better able to adapt to the ridiculous nature of the American populace; mostly, however, I'd love to see our miserable shitbag have to answer to the Loyal Opposition sans pollsters and cue cards.

  • There was a CNN chat similar to that, but for Garry Kasparov, I impersonated him. The chatroom was filled, but the moderators were out to lunch. After I started talking about how silly Americans were, everybody figured I wasn't Gary :-)
  • I'm trying to figure out if I should be impressed someone did this. It's not techincally impressive, and all he did was mention "porn". Woo. More impressive would have been tossing out comments like "We've just decided to nuke Iraq." or things like that. Reagan used to use comments like that just to piss the media off.

    On the other hand, all involved did end up looking stupid. Wasn't hard to make them look bad, but it was done. Cool.
  • All this recent wave of "fun" has led me to contemplate the following issue that has been previously discussed here. The government's solution to all of this is to pass laws that make all of this activities illegal. In their zest to appease the public, civil liberties (at least in the US) will be pushed aside. Later, the courts will eventually issue their decisions. Much later, the US Supreme Court will overturn these decisions.

    Study political history. This has been the pattern whenever a "new" issue and threat has scared ppl. The politicans will always overreact.

    What most ppl will not want to address is that the internet is not secure and that this is a highly technical (ie, protocol) issue. To make the net more secure will require ppl to probe for its weakeness. But the lawmakers will have made this type of research illegal. But the lawmakers will then make only research efforts legal. But then again, this is what is now the status quo!

    Ppl are going to try and crack. Making this illegal is not the ultimate solution. Monitoring is also not the ulimate solution. Perhaps there might be a technology solution, like coming up and implementing a new set of protocols? Unfortunately, the money hungry lobbyists will not push for this.

    Standard disclaimer, it is late and I'm tired.

  • I emailed them to tell them their "experts" were idjits.

    They sent me spam telling me to call an 888 number for my free gift and asking me to sign up for their regular weekly spam.


  • I'm surprised nobody mentioned previous pranks to CNN. Captain Janks(made popular on Howard Stern) numerous times called CNN's newsdesk usually just after a breaking news story. He then socially engineered the poor lady at the phone posing as some news reporter from wherever the news is taking place. Several times he's been on TV when they cut "live" to him via the phone, and he typically mentioned something to praise Howard Stern. I forgot which prank he did that was so tasteless that even Stern yelled at him, but now the pranks seem to have reached the Internet. Yahoo!
  • *** President_Clinton (bill@got.head.from.monica.in.the.whitehouse.gov) has joined #100%_xxx_sex_movies
    President_Clinton is (bill@got.head.from.monica.in.the.whitehouse.gov) (I did not have sexual relations with that woman)
    on channels: @#cigars @#monica @#whitewater #100%_xxx_sex_movies
    on irc via server irc.whitehouse.gov (Please don't tell Hillary)
    End of /WHOIS list.
    <President_Clinton> Hey guys, what's up
    <President_Clinton> Anyone have that complete Pam & Tommy video series? Hillary found mine and erased it :(
    <PRON_DOOD> Uh yeah, I have it, but it's like, several hundred megs!
    <President_Clinton> Well, hell it's not like I'm paying for the bandwidth
    *** President Clinton laughs at the silly tax-payers ***
    <R0N_JEREMY_69> Mr. President, I found you some more German cigar movies, want them?
    <President_Clinton> Sure, after all, it tastes good!
    <Lamer31337> LOL! I can't believe you really did that!
    <President_Clinton> It tasted kinda fishy when I smoked it though...
    <SEXFREAK> ok, too much info...
    *** Al_Gore (al@invented.the.internet.at.whitehouse.gov) has joined #100%_xxx_sex_movies
    <President_Clinton> By the way, could I get those Paula Jones playboy pics?
    <Al_Gore> uh, does anyone have some... BILL! What are you doing here?
    <Al_Gore> hrrr... I was doing... research on IRC censorship... uh for Tipper...
    <President_Clinton> Uh... define "here"... err I did not have sexual relations... err bye!
    Signoff: President_Clinton (QUIT: Define 'quit')
    <Al_Gore> Well now that he's gone... anybody got some bondage videos?
  • Yikes! I like the Tories, but is Blair really a fascist? That's strong (overused) language.
  • How about inviting the President for a /. interview in the YRO section? Let's have the /. admin cabal knock out with extreme prejudice all questions that do not relate to YRO, and all other questions be moderated the usual way.

    THis way the President can answer questions that are respectful, and yet hard-hitting, for a change.

    If he has the guts, that is.
  • Yeah, trolls are so very funny.

    It's annoying that people who want to read an interview with the President without seeing the equivilent of "Natalie Portman, naked and petrified" are called whiners, told to get the stick out of their ass, etc.

    Some people just don't like seeing trolls and spam along with their more traditional content. If you really feel that strong of an urge to mock the President, why don't you set up your own channel on efnet and log in as "President_Clinton" and parody each of Clinton's answers? Then you can have your fun and leave the "humorless suits" alone. Perhaps that would take too much wit.

    It's distressing that so many people on Slashdot seem to think that the internet is their personal playground. "Back years ago, the internet was all about having fun!" No, back years ago, the internet was the same as it is today: it was about sharing information.

    I think there's an amusing troll posted on Slashdot every once in a while, and I can't claim to have never trolled or flamebaited Usenet newsgroups when I was younger and stupider, but that doesn't mean that just because you have a wise-ass comment pop into your head that you should post it for all the world to see. Really, we're not all that impressed with your wit.
  • This has nothing to do with the incident mentioned in the article, but it's along the same lines.

    You guys remember back in 1995 or 1996 when MTV used to have something called YACK Live? They had an IRC server up and you'd type in dumb comments along the vein of "SHOUT OUTS TO NEW ORLEANS BABY!!!!" Many of messages (filtered, of course) would then scroll in a textbox on the videos shown on the MTV Yack Live program.

    I seem to remember hearing that r00t managed to crash the server, just after the textbox filled the message "R00T 0WNZ YOU!" several times.

    Is this just an urban legend that I heard or
    did anyone see this happen on TV?
  • by Wah ( 30840 )

  • dunno I emailed 'em about the troll infestation the other day, Hemos' reply goes like this....

    We've been looking at a number of solutions, but more to the point, the next couple weeks are going to have some majorly cool anti-Troll weapons. yes, the arms race will accelerate,
    but that's the nature of things - and we'll beat them off for a while.

    They just have to hold them off till May (then they go home from school)

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @08:04PM (#1275454)
    Good work, genius. Why didn't you drop an email to CNN's people, letting them know about this problem?

    Of course not, because that wouldn't give you a chance to put up a "Look how cool I am!" web page.

    Heck, the guy practically praises the event at the beginning of the article, calling it "a reasonable attempt to integrate two media".

    So, if it was so reasonable, why did you feel the need to screw around with it?

    The ugly truth to large organizations is that they act on very specific motivators. Quite often the motivator involves money - either how to make it, or how to avoid spending too much of it. Other times, it involves a more political motivation. One such motivation is embarrassment.

    If these organizations were motivated by what I'm sure many Slashdot readers would consider more noble motivations such as doing the technically Right Thing... then a simple email may have sufficed. However, for one reason or another, the history of computing is full of examples where such warnings go unheeded. That same history is also full of examples where a technical prank that was humorous, intelligent, and most importantly non-damaging was played to embarrass authorities into correcting a technically hazardous situation. This is the true legacy of the technical prank sometimes included in the definition of a "hack".

    Whether this particular prank was intelligent could be up for debate. I believe that calling for "more porn" is hardly original. But then, that's probably as much to do with one's taste in humor as well intelligence (and I admit I did get a chuckle out of the whole situation). But the prank did no damage. It has caused a reasonable amount of embarrassment for CNN. And you can bet that CNN will be doing something to their environment to ensure this kind of situation does not happen again.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is what is referred to as "spamming." "Trolling" would be writing, in a non-abusive way, a post that is intentionally engineered to solicit responses from people who "fall for it." What you're doing is abusing the resources of a Web service that has been provided to you at no cost, and in doing so, you'll probably end up ruining it for the rest of us as well.

    So do what you will, but if you want to give yourselves a label, you would do well to choose something other than "troll." "Troll" does not befit you; it is far too dignified a label to be suitable for pond scum such as yourself. "Excrement spewers" might work. You might ask for suggestions in eighth-period gym class, as well. It would give you something to do other than compare to see who has the most pubes. :-)
  • ...
    Hi -

    Great to hear from you! Thanks for writing us at Fox News. We want you
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    Fuck 'em.

    Yes, I do think fucking media companies is what they should get for trying to pass off bots as caring, breathing people, and then try to sell me something.

    (the free gift is more marketing, don't ya love 'em)

  • by Tim Behrendsen ( 89573 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @08:16PM (#1275460)

    I'm surprised at many of you people. As much as some complain about the difference between "hacking" and "cracking", I would think you would be happy at this categorization.

    To me, if they had spoofed the protocol, or had invaded CNN's servers, that would have been a "crack". Since this was more in line of a clever use of the technology, it should be charactorized as a "hack".

    For once the media got it right! Rejoice!

    P.S. I still reserve the future right to rail against people for pedantic use of "hack" v.s. "crack". :)


  • So I figured, in the interest of discussion, that I'd post a general reply to a few of the points brought up in response to mine.

    I'm sick of this crap. Not the /. discussion crap, I'm sick of people thinking that anything Net-connected is theirs to screw with as they please. Got a chat with the Prez? Hey, don't use it for useful info, or to ask questions - crack something and talk about porn. Bored? Launch a DOS attack against a few targets. School out for the day? Hack some innocent guy's Linux box.

    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I've never bought this idea that security problems need to be "demonstrated". I don't understand the mentality that thinks that breaking into someone's property is the best way to help them feel safe. (Note: Minor topic drift here)

    Not to mention that this wasn't even particularly funny. "I like porn."? Yeah, that's a classic.
  • ditto [slashdot.org]

  • Do you folks not realize who this man is? There is no event a Clinton would walk within 150 miles that wasn't completely scripted and he knew the questions 48 hours in advance. This is the way he works. So, you (as citizens) will never get your questions answered. The only questions that will get through are the ones by crying single mothers who need more government money. Why does Hillary only run a "listening campaign?" Because she cares about the views of the citizens of New York? Sure... ;)

    All these "town hall" deals are this way. What candidate would want to be asked a tough, maybe embarassing question? They (and you) know that will be the only clip played on the news for weeks to come. So, to avoid this, they only allow generic questions that let the repeat the one or two themes of their campaign, which they hope is carried by the mass media.

    Even if a "hard hitting" question comes about, you can bet it wouldn't be against the candidate at such a forum. Take the McCain fiasco with the allegedly 13 year old boy who idolizes McCain and his (near) weeping mother. No one asks, "What pollster (who gets paid per valid person he polls) would bother talking to someone who can't vote for another five years?" No, instead all the news blurbs are about how her son was in tears because a mean Bush push pollster (how many ordinary citizens, the same types which can't find the power button on a simple computer case, know the term "push poll?") said McCain is a bad man. This has accomplished what it was set out to do, boost McCain. Too bad he shot himself in the ass with that commercial calling Bush "Clinton." Without that, this would have been a decent last week before the South Carolina primary for him.

    I won't get into the number of levels of people these questions go through before being asked by Wolf Blitzer or answered by President Clinton. But be assured, the two aren't sitting there at terminals actually typing. ;)
  • OK, here's a quote from ABC News's article on the "hack": One even managed to evade the filtering software set up to screen out potentially sticky questions or inappropriate comments during the chat and using the president's name posted the comment, "Personally, I would like to see more porn on the Internet." I don't think "sticky questions" was a very good phrase to use when talking about good old Mr. shoot-it-on-her-dress. :P
  • Booing?

    Hah! In Taiwan, fistfights break out in parliament.

    "Does the right homourable gentleman want a piece of me, does he?"

  • OK, here's a quote from ABC News's article on the "hack": One even managed to evade the filtering software set up to screen out potentially sticky questions or inappropriate comments during the chat and using the president's name posted the comment, "Personally, I would like to see more porn on the Internet." I don't think "sticky questions" was a very good phrase to use when talking about good old Mr. shoot-it-on-her-dress. :P
  • Aha, we have an obvious case here of Ender pretending to be someone named JackiePatti.

    You're not fooling us, Ender!

  • Bored? Launch a DOS attack against a few targets.

    What's this? Somebody's launching a DOS attack? For the sake of children, somebody had better make sure it's a DR-DOS attack, not that bug-riddled, CP/M-code-laden Microsoft stuff.

    It must be a heavy burden to have been chosen to speak out for the Net's righteous dignity. I recommend getting a little more fiber in your diet, and seeing a therapist to remove the identity confusion you seem to have with your Everquest character, Sir Sucks-A-Lot...

  • ConferenceRoom is actually a pretty good program. webmaster.ca.us.webchat.org has 3336 local users right now, the irc.webchat.org network has 8411 users in total. You'd think CNN would reserve the nickname, but they didn't - that's the problem. They could have used NickServ or a q:line (both supported by CR), but they didn't. And instead of relying on ChanServ to voice them (with the VOP function), they voiced people manually.
  • > Christ, people, if we ever want to stop this idea that all computer
    > people are "hacker doodz", then we need to stop acting like five year
    > olds whenever the chance might present itself.

    D00D, U SUXX!!!!!!!!!!!!111

    TH3R3"S N0TH1N6 WR0N6 W1TH B31N6 4 H4XX0R D00D!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    M4YB3 U R JU$T J34L0US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
    ------ ------ ------
    ALL HA1L B1FF, TH3 M05T 31337 D00D!!!!!1
    ------ ------ ------
    ALL HA1L B1FF, TH3 M05T 31337 D00D!!!!!1
  • We used to leave our front door unlocked. Sure was nice. Once when we were away on vacation the neighbour dropped by and closed a window we had left open because it was raining.

    So were you trying to say you're in <b>favour</b> of a community where folks live in fear? Isn't the logical extension of that philosophy a police state?

  • Heh. Burning off karma, guys? ;-)
  • I knew it was only a matter of time before someone setup up an AC submit bot. Is this a home-brew bot, or is it TribeFlood? Will Slashdot join the ranks of Yahoo!, CNN, and E*Trade soon?

  • Heh, as well, Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson, and perhaps Fox as well, were taken by callers during the Prince John F. "Coulda-Been-President-Too" Kennedy, Jr. ordeal. Just call up a network, say you're an expert or Coast Guard official (something along those lines) and boom, you're on the air.
  • (Same article, just better formatting; had it on html by mistake :) )

    Let's look at the two primary motivations identified in Wankel's "statement" web page:

    1. "Users change their nick after someone else disconnects to impersonate them make humorous statements for the purpose of entertaining other users." (sic)

    Practical jokes have a time and a place. Among friends in an IRC #? Sure. At your best friend's bachelor party? Sure. While he's at the altar, taking his vows? Uh uh. Social etiquette - and not Zone Alarm/Black Ice - constrains our actions. We could behave like jerks, but out of respect we don't.

    Wankel and everyone else in the channel were given an opportunity to participate in a groundbreaking event - an IRC channel interview with the President - but with clear and explicit limitations on their participation. They were not given "voice" precisely because this was to be a moderated discussion. Clearly this was not your basic IRC chat, and Wankel could have shown a little more respect for the event by not taking advantage of a server crash in such a manner. I can toss a sarcastic barb at a friend, but I wouldn't at a prospective employer I'm being interviewed by - or for that matter a potential employee I was interviewing - for the first time.

    2. "I hope that this harmless prank has served to let CNN know that this system is insecure and needs to be overhauled before someone does actual harm to them or one of their guests. "

    Oh, give me a break. Was this really the only way to serve notice to CNN of his concerns? Couldn't he have just given them a little feedback afterwards? Did Wankel really have to disrupt the tone of the interview with such a moronic comment about porn to get across his "point"?

    Just as in real life, not all "online outlets" have to be Cryptonomicon secure; for example, the very IRC channels Wankel mentioned where friends can congregate and, when a server crashes, play pranks on one another. And when you do come across a situation which _you_ think would benefit from additional security measures, is it asking so much to display a little maturity?

    Wankel is asking CNN to think a little before the next time they play with technology. So why couldn't he?

  • by President_Clinton ( 152737 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @08:58PM (#1275489) Homepage
    My fellow Americans, it is a sad day when hackers are able to impersonate myself, the duly elected commander-in-chief of the American people. I promise you, the American people, that we will apprehend those responsible for these crimes. On the dawning of this Internet Age, we must be ever vigilant in fighting to protect our freedoms from those who would seek to take them away from us.
  • by Wah ( 30840 )

  • by goldmeer ( 65554 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @09:03PM (#1275493)
    After all, Al Gore INVENTED the internet...


  • Roblimo, on behalf of the American people, I would like to congradulate you on your willingness to perform your patriotic duty to host my next IRC chat. I accept your kind offer. My people will be in touch with your people shortly.
  • But in this case there was no unauthorized access. A guy simply changed his nick to see what would happen. And he himself was clearly astonished that it worked. He didn't walk into a door. Or enter a computer system. He just changed his IRC nick. Now, if somebody had made a real attempt to impersonate the president of the United States, I'd say that was a bad thing to do. But go read the guys explanation... he made a joking comment, that nobody could think came from the president. Lighten up a bit people. Nothing illegal or immoral happened here, just a humorous gaffe caused by CNN not knowing how to run a heavily moderated IRC chat.
  • So were you trying to say you're in favour of a community where folks live in fear? Isn't the logical extension of that philosophy a police state?
    Oh, please. It doesn't matter what you or I think about our society. It is what it is, with all the good and bad elements that exist. Being aware of crime doesn't create it, just like being ignorant of it doesn't make it go away.

    (Not that I'd call this latest incident a crime)

  • by Randseed ( 132501 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @09:22PM (#1275505)
    After hearing about CNN and other Internet sites being bitch slapped over the last week, President Clinton today released a statement condemning the behavior.

    Every thirty seconds in the United States, a bitch is slapped up. I have proposed the most stringent anti-bitch-slapping legislation in our nation's history which passed by a two to one margin in Congress.

    But a bitch slapping problem continues to plague our nation. I hope young people will learn from this disturbing video that slapping your bitch is not cool. Respect your bitch!

    And bitches, if he loved you, he wouldn't slap you. It's a serious offense and should be reported to authorities immediately. And know this: If you are slapped up, it's not your fault, bitch.

    I hope that all Americans join me in fixing this disturbing problem for the new millenium. Thank you, and good night.

    Bill Clinton then proceeding to break into a chorus of "Getting Sticky Wit It" to the tune of Will Smith's "Getting Jiggy With It."

  • Jeez, give the guy some credit. He had to really think on his feet. I sincerely doubt he really thought it would work when he typed /nick President_Clinton, much less that they'd auto +v him. He had less than 30 seconds, most of which as he describes in his explanation, he spent laughing. Were it a preplanned hack, I would certainly expect better. But for an on the spot prank, I think it just shows he found himself in a humorous situation, he was not aiming for some brilliant act of hacktivism.
  • If you get the chance to barge into a chat with Clinton, instead of spoofing, how about doing what no reporter seems to dare and asking him a hard question?
    And I'm sure Wankel would have if; A) he'd expected the trick to work and 2) he hadn't "...found himself in respiratory distress due to excessive laughter, he was unable to make any timely comments on US Politics or foreign affairs."

    Seriously, you don't get many chances like this, who has time to plan?

  • Quick! Call Fox! Slashdot's just been hacked!

    (Well, that uses up my quota of exclaimation marks for this year)

  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @09:36PM (#1275514)
    ... whether he understands the Internet sufficiently to know that this was a non-event in the IRC scheme of things?

    You never know, he (or his spokespeople) might actually be more clued up than the media.

    It certainly would be a coup for them to respond intelligently about what happened, in the sense that the US network-aware population would be astounded. I doubt that they even recongnize the political opportunity though.
  • 10) *Steve_Jobs* And I don't even like blueberry.
    9) *Bill_Gates* Monopoly? Sure, as long as I can be the hat.
    8) *Kofi_Annan* Anyone for Coffee? It's strong and black.
    7) *Phil_Evers (head of Esmerelda)* At least the Tisza and Danube taste of almonds now.
    6) *General Wiranto* Anyone up for a song?
    5) Signoff: John_Howard (You are temporarily banned from this server. jdIc4341)
    4) *Boris_Yeltsin5* Who put the room-ski on spin cycle?
    3) *Joerg_Haider* Australia's One Nation party were wimps.
    2) *NASA* If those damn martians would just tell us where they were, we wouldn't need to keep "losing" craft

    And the number 1 "hacked" IRC comment is...
    1) *President_Clinton* Bill and I love you all!

  • No, it's not a hack. A hack would be bypassing some sort of security. In this case there was none. Combined with the server crashes, it was much more a race than a hack. This is where people with the fasted deck (best reactions) simply walk all over the unprepared.
  • Jeez, give the guy some credit. He had to really think on his feet. I sincerely doubt he really thought it would work when he typed /nick President_Clinton, much less that they'd auto +v him.
    True... I may have sounded more harsh than I intended. You'll note I went on to say...
    (and I admit I did get a chuckle out of the whole situation)
    Any criticism on my part was to seperate this individual event from some of the great hacks from history that I alluded to. I found this event amusing and well handled. But it wasn't one of the classic hacks. And there's no crime in that.
  • We can only hope that Clinton or one of his advisors knows that this is pretty much a non-event. Remember that he has a high-level policy meeting today to discuss Internet security. I'd rather he didn't have staring in his face what on the surface looks like a blatant example of Internet insecurity.

    We simply don't need the US Government's "help" in securing the Internet. I would hate to think that a simple prank like this would help to bring that nightmare upon us. Given the way CNN's competitors (especially Fox) have been making this non-event into a Big Thing, Clinton and his spinmeister friends might decide that "action" is required.

    The cost of this prank might be very high...

  • Good Lord. That gave me a good belly laugh. Thanks for going through the trouble of registering the name and all.
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @11:45PM (#1275531)
    Reading the log you can see that one of the ops (Jackie_CNN) was just too clueless to be opped on the channel. First she voiced President_C|inton (then devoiced a short time later), then voiced wankel (now known as President_Clinton) in spite of the fact that his IP address was completely wrong - with username petro for one thing, and the wrong numbers for another thing. On top of that, the other op (JoeCNN) was too clueless to undo the damage.

    Any 14 year old IRC groupie could have done a better job of opping the channel. Opping is more than just knowing how to click power menu options.

    Nothing personal Jackie, but you'd better go hang on IRC a while longer before you op the next interview.
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2000 @12:39AM (#1275535) Homepage
    According to the wankel's statement [boredom.org] CNN has called it a "prank" and said that they "were not hacked into". FoxNews are the ones who called it "vandalism" and "hacking".

  • years ago during the OJ Simpson trial, some prankster made some images on his pc to make it look like a program, then he told CNN that his program, using a complex algorthm, could tell if OJ was guilty or not... CNN came with the cameras, interviewed the guy, showed the PC... Whats funny is, CNN didnt even bother to ask the guy to show the program working, if they had they would have known it was a prank because it was just images. The interview aired, and then the guy publically said it was a prank, that was funny =).... this guy has done tons of pranks with the media, if you know who he is, or if he has a website or something please tell.

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by dingbat_hp ( 98241 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2000 @02:05AM (#1275542) Homepage

    Isn't the fundamental principle of any form of democracy the inviolable right to publically humiliate the President ?

    When emperors refuse the right to have their subjects poke fun at them, then they are taking the first steps to delusions and dictatorship.

    Could anyone humiliate Gandhi ? - no, because a quip that Gandhi wanted to see more net porn would be so farcical as to reflect only upon the joker. If Clinton is sensitive to suggestions of an interest in net porn, then that's because his own past behaviour makes it all too believable. That's not just a malicious prankster, that's a valid political comment -- besides which, you can't humiliate Clinton. Not post-Lewinsky anyway, he's just beyond further humbling.

  • Yes, I certainly prefer a more closed society. I'll pick my friends by who I like thank you, not by who happens to live next door. These 'open' societies you're talking about are the ones that most of the time make it impossible for people to be different, or have an opinion/sexual orientation/whatever that the others don't like.
  • I suspect the reason the American President is kept away from this give-and-take is that, unlike most countries, he is both Chief Executive and Head of State. Sort of like if Queen Elizabeth was also Prime Minister. If she was, the questioning would tone down because of the dignity of her office as head of state.

    In a parliamentary system, you can rip the Chief Executive to shreds but everybody would still be untimately loyal to the head of state.

  • Ahh the inaccuracies. I really don't think /. is the place for debate on UK politics but seeing as each of your statements is patently wrong I feel I should correct you.

    * You do still have a right to silence. What has changed is that the court is entitled to draw a conclusion from your refusal to answer the question. To me this makes perfect sense - "Did you kill the girl?" - "no comment". What conclusion would you draw?

    * Video cameras are placed and paid for by the local council/police forces. Central government has nothing to do with them and afaik they have passed no new laws regarding cameras since the election. I may be wrong about that though...

    * The dome was paid for primarily from the lottery, and the rest from sponsorship. Not the treasury. And no government minister had direct control over content or anything else.

    As for "functionally more right wing" - rubbish. You are forgetting the Poll Tax, privatisation of every utility known to man, removal of unempolyment benefits, education cuts and council budget capping. All these things were brought in by the last conservative government, all are to me far more right wing than anything this lot have done so far. And far more damaging.

    Just my 2p worth...
  • No, it's not a hack. A hack would be bypassing some sort of security. In this case there was none. Combined with the server crashes, it was much more a race than a hack.

    You might want to take a look at http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/j argon/html/entry/hack.html [tuxedo.org]. Particularly sense 5.

  • You can blame Fox for running the article, but you can't blame them for writing it. This is a Reuters/AP article. Its off the wire. If you want to lay blame, write to Reuters.
  • That happens in the U.S. Senate every few years, too. Come to think of it, we're about due :)

    Then there was President Jackson, aka Old Hickory, aka Colonel Jackson (though he was a General at the more interesting points).
    Just off the cuff:
    1) sent the British commanding general at New Orleans home in a rum barrel. He demolished the last British force in North America, unaware that the war had been settled a week earlier in France. Remnants of the British army were scattered across three or four states.
    2) At his innaugeration, became the only U.S. President *ever* to ride a horse through the White House.
    3) He was a brawler and a duelist. His dueling glove shows visible wear (I believe it's in the Smithsonian). He once told the entire United States Senate to meet him on Capitol Hill, and bring their guns. None showed up.
    4) My favorite: The duel with Charles Dickinson. This was one he'd rather have avoided. I forget the grounds, but I think it had something to do with Mrs. Dickinson. Dickinson was a marksman, and the night before the duel, put half a dozen bullets into an area the size of a silver dollar on the tree that Jackson would be standing by while showing off for his friends. Jackson came out in flowing robes, and simply let Dickinson shoot. He took the bullet in the chest without flinching. Dickinson tried to flee, and had to be dragged back so that Jackson could shoot. Jackson aimed, then lowered his aim, shooting him in the groin. Once Dickinson went down, Jackson collapsed from his own injury. "I didn't want the (*%^$&*( to die with the satisfaction of knowing he'd hit me." He spat blood for the rest of his life from the wound.
    5) His dying words: "My only regrets are that I didn't shoot John C. Calhoun and hang Henry Clay." (two famous statesmen of the era).

    Hmm, or in the Nevada state legislature:
    "Sir, are you accusing me of prevarication?"
    "I'm not sure what that big fancy word means, but if it means am I accusing you of lying, I sure am!"

    See, our politics aren't *always* dull :)
  • >he made a joking comment, that nobody could think came from the president.

    Oh, I wouldn't go that far. How about, "that noone thinks the president
    would make if he thought he'd get caught" :\) = cigar in the smiley . . .
  • Pranks are included in "hacks", at least according to the Jargon File [tuxedo.org]. The canonical [tuxedo.org] example would be the Cal Tech Rose Bowl Hack [tuxedo.org].


  • Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I've never bought this idea that security problems need to be "demonstrated". I don't understand the mentality that thinks that breaking into someone's property is the best way to help them feel safe. (Note: Minor topic drift
    You are completely correct. Demonstrating a security breach does not make someone feel safe. That's the point.

    I mentioned earlier [slashdot.org] that motivation often comes in the form of money and embarassment. What drives those motivations home is fear.

    People don't change things because they feel comfortable. Someone who grasps a situation may feel a bit of fear just KNOWING something is possible and that alone will motivate them to fix the situation. However, quite often officials do not grasp the situation and must have the severity of that situation demonstrated to them.

    Seeing is believing. Spook the horses.

    I've been in more than a few situations where some generation of fear was required to get the Right Thing done. And I'll likely do it again.

    As any Star Wars fan will gladly tell you - Fear leads to the Dark Side. You can over do the fear factor. You can quickly cross from a practical demonstration of risk to out right fear-mongering. One should always be on guard against such excess.

    Again, it would be nice if we were in a perfect world where simply pointing out a deficency was enough to have it corrected. But the Real World is not wired that way. To get things done, sometimes you have to push buttons; you have to present a motivating factor. Fear is one of those.

  • Reply emailed to me from Claire Capuzzi regarding FoxNews story.


    Saw the posting on slashdot in reference to a story that ran on our site.

    The inaccurate story used material from an AP or Reuters story that laid out the situation like this: CNN claimed the site wasn't "hacked." Then the story said "several Web experts" claimed it had been hacked.

    This led to a discussion here about what "hacked" meant in the media, and some felt it was being used in the loosest possible sense, to include pranks and minor interference with a Web site. We let the story stand, although it did provoke discussion in the newsroom. No one here thought that it was a "hack" in the real sense of the word. The story also quoted CNN fairly extensively saying that it wasn't a hack.

    But that's semantics. Bottom line is the AP or Reuters story was wrong (our their experts were), and it slipped through in our rewrite.

    We try to be as responsible as we can when running technology stories, but unfortunately the pace of breaking news and reliance on wire copy may occasionally compromise details. Naturally, we try our very best not to let this happen, and if you'll notice, that story is no longer running on the site.

    You're right that there's been lots of inaccurate reporting and poor explanations of the "hacker" story in the struggle to get the news out quickly, from the wires and across new media sites. We're trying hard to explain this story as responsibly as possible.

    Thanks for the comments.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington