Experts say hacker hype is threat on its own

Wednesday, 9 July 2003, 2:38 PM EST

After a widely publicized hacking contest failed to cause as much damage as expected last weekend, computer security experts are advocating a novel response for Internet hackers out for a digital joy ride: ignore them.

Security firms frequently notify companies about attacks in which hackers can steal data, crash systems or do other nefarious acts. But excess publicity of relatively low-risk threats, such as Web site defacements, can do more harm than good, experts said.

Web site defacements, the electronic version of graffiti, cause more of a nuisance than real damage to computer networks, and they occur every day, experts said.

"It's the boy-who-cried-wolf phenomenon," Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at network monitoring firm Counterpane Internet Security, said on Monday. Hyping non-threats "dulls people to the real threats."

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