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My dear fellow attention whores,

Can we please stop inventing new bullshit terms for each and every variant of a variant of an attack scenario? Sure, at times we need new terms naming new concepts. Spam is an example, phishing is another. I don’t complain about these. What bothers me is our tendency to modify these general terms every time some slight modification of the concept appears: from spam to spit, from phishing to pharming, hishing, sishing, or wishing. Other than the useful terms for generic concepts, these creations make our lives harder, not easier. They are confusing us and others.

Why this rant? I got a call this morning from a journalist. She wanted to know everything about whaling. WTF? It turned out she really wanted to know everything about GhostNet and the security issues and attack strategies involved. But she didn’t say so and she seemed fixated upon whaling, which, I have to admit, sounds sort of cool and interesting. However, it lead to a failure in communication. She failed to get across her actual need for information, confusing me with a meaningless term that she had picked up somewhere. I failed to get across to her that I do know my share of computer security and that I might actually be able to answer some of her questions.

Coining new terms isn’t wrong per se. But names are like money. Producing too many makes them all worthless.

Yours sincerely,


*) Letter-style rant. 😛

2 Kommentare zu „Lant*

  1. The Internet is a free country. Everybody is entitled to build his/her own vocabulary – even journalists. However, normally communication doesn’t fail just because of one word, or did she simply had no idea what she was talking about? By the way, my journalist training included explaining words as you would do in a lexicon. Of course you could also call it lexiwrite, meantract, defnext, straining…

    1. I’m not complaining about the journalist. She was doing her job and tried to find security experts to answer her questions. But her mission was to research whaling, an uncommon term that does not refer to any clearly defined concept. I’m complaining about people who make up such terms, confusing everyone.

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