As the volume of threats and cyberattacks grows larger, so does the pressure to come up with just the right name. It’s no longer enough to just identify the complex problems in the cyber world. If it doesn’t have a clever name attached, it doesn’t get its fair time in the spotlight.
“Like astronomers who discover new stars, security experts who first identify computer bugs, viruses, worms, ransomware and other coding catastrophes often get to name their finds. Such discoveries now number in the thousands each year, so crafting a standout moniker can be a serious challenge,” writes Robert McMillan from The Wall Street Journal.
Fail to properly name even the most important cybersecurity offense discovered and it never really gets its day in the sun. On the other hand, come up with a menacing-sounding name for something that ends up not being quite as bad as it first appeared, and you have the potential to be mocked.
For instance, “Some venerable names that have stood the test of time: The Love Bug, for the worm that attacked millions of Windows personal computers in 2000, and Y2K, a turn-of-the-century programming scare that didn’t live up to its hype,” reports McMillan.
Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who teaches about hacker culture at McGill University, tells The Wall Street Journal it’s not about marketing, but a grassroots initiative. “You’re an insider if you know the full meaning,” she says.
The idea to name bugs and bad software first happened in 1971, with Creeper. The intent was to convey how an unwanted computer program could creep along to other computers on the ARPANET, the early version of the internet. Fast forward to 2014, when a bug was dubbed Heartbleed for causing software at the heart of the internet to bleed data, according to McMillan. “Heartbleed gained so much attention it inspired the Pwnie Awards—pronounced “Pony” Awards—which recognize the best bug branding at the annual Black Hat computer-security conference in Las Vegas,”
A cyberattack by any other name would still be a threat.
Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal.