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Phlagrant Marketing

It's happened again: An Internet security company seeking a little free PR has coined yet another ominous-sounding word beginning with the letters "ph" to describe an online threat. The word of the day is "Phlooding."

Granted, "phlooding" -- a term its creators use to describe an online attack in which wireless Internet systems are overwhelmed with so many bogus login requests that legitimate users are deprived of access -- is a real threat. I just wish this company -- AirMagnet -- hadn't felt the need to contribute to a security catchphrase trend that's getting pretty silly.

This phoolish phenomenon can trace its roots to the term "phreakers," a label for those early, crafty hackers from the '60s and '70s (like Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak) who used technological trickery and electronics skills to have all kinds of phun with the public telephone networks, usually with the aim of making phree long-distance phone calls.

In the mid 1990s, the term "phishing" was coined to describe the act of philching someone else's America Online credentials in order to get phree Internet access. Recently, phishing has come to be associated with phooling people into visiting fake bank and e-commerce sites and convincing them to phork over their personal and phinancial information.

Then, along came "pharming," which involves phiddling with someone's Internet connection or Web server to redirect their Internet traffic to a malicious Web site controlled by the attackers.

So kudos to the SANS Internet Storm Center for seeking submissions from readers for suggestions for the next digital "ph" word, an effort they described as "a pre-emptive strike to marketing bodies everywhere." And I was pleasantly surprised when they posted a phew of my own suggestions:

* Phlaming: conducting a denial-of-service attack using angry insults written in all capital letters with lots of punctuation.

* Phlanking: the use of special exploits to get around a target's defenses.

* Phudging: the act of serving misleading online advertisements.

Readers can submit their "ph-word" ideas (and definitions) to the SANS contact page.

By Brian Krebs  |  July 18, 2005; 4:02 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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I just wanted to point out an error in your article. In the following line,
"phooling people into visiting fake bank and e-commerce sites"

I believe the word "fake" should actually be spelled, "phake".

Eventually the letter 'f' will be removed entirely from the alphabet, as it will no longer be needed.

I could go on about the attempts of young people to remove the letter 'f' in the past. My own kids tried to remove the letter f from the alphabet once attempting to replace it with the letters "th", but they were thwarted in kindergarten.

I used to disagree with that, and tried hard to stop it, but now my kids are teenagers and have explained to me that I just don't really know anything, and am not qualified to judge on such matters.

Unable to argue with that logic, I now see the error of my ways, I think the whole idea is pretty PHAT!


Posted by: Dan | July 25, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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