Friday, August 27, 2010

Sensations Sell Stories!

Danial Craig 007 in Casino RoyaleBritish newspapers are having a field day with the stuff that headlines are made of: the murder of Gareth Williams, an analyst at GCHQ seconded to the UK spy service MI6 (GCHQ eavesdrops on telephone conversations).
Whether he was killed by Islamic extremists, Russian gangsters or someone closer to him, Williams died a spy's death. Killed in his penthouse, his body was found in the bathroom stuffed inside a sports bag. As murders go, it could be from a James Bond film.
If you have spare time, you could wade through this article in the Daily Mail...which touches on every possible angle.
But in his frenzy to add as much 007-like excitement as possible, the journalist has not double-checked his sources. He's assumed if it was published in another source, someone else MUST have checked it, and therefore it must be legit. My eye was caught by this particular quote in the article:
"After the entire electricity grid in Auckland went down in the late 1990s, GCHQ helped the NZ authorities trace the cyber-attack back to a group named the 'Anti-Christ Doom Squad', which had managed this feat from a laptop in an Amsterdam drug café."
The original source for this was Thinking about the Unthinkable: Australian Vulnerabilities to High-Tech Risks, a research paper by Dr Adam Cobb, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group, 29 June 1998. This story was fabricated for the Australian research paper as an example of what MIGHT be possible by hi-tech hackers, in the lead-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The researcher even STATED that it was a myth. But now it's being circulated globally as fact...
As we in NZ know, the massive power blackouts were caused by aging equipment failures and maintenance oversights (which were well-researched in the witchhunt that followed).
Daily FAIL!
PS: 03 May 2012 - Finally, the coroner's report on Gareth Williams' death. And it's a "No shit, Sherlock"!!!

No comments: