“How a North Korean cyber attack could cripple Britain”. The Daily Mail goes bonkers

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

There’s nothing like serious journalism, which avoids sensationalism and instead serves up a sensible, level-headed exploration of complex issues for the edification of the public.

Unfortunately this article from the Daily Mail is nothing like serious journalism.

Daily Mail article

Instead it appears to have been written by someone who wants to script the next Die Hard movie.

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Alongside the Daily Mail‘s sidebar of shame with “news” that – back when she was 19 years old – Angelina Jolie had some photos taken with her bra off, that a pregnant footballer’s wife wears a bikini on the beach, and that somebody I’ve never heard of is wearing a “daring low-cut swimsuit” in Barbados, is some fantasy about a North Korean internet attack on Great Britain.

The article, which has somehow appeared in the newspaper’s “news” section, describes the UK’s air traffic control system coming under attack, nuclear power stations being electronically compromised in a bid to make them meltdown, and “the computer systems of every major bank in the City of London had been simultaneously attacked.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, jets are said to be falling out the sky and the UK’s water system poisoned.

According to the Daily Mail, Prime Minister David Cameron even joins in the fun with a speech about the apocalyptic events and the UK’s military response:

‘Today has been the darkest day in our island’s history,’ said Cameron. ‘We have been the victim of a cyber-attack that has destroyed a nuclear power station, downed numerous aircraft, wounded our financial system and hampered our oil and water infrastructures. The cost in lives has been, and will continue to be, immense. But today we will not just be victims. We shall also retaliate.

‘There is no doubt who committed this attack — it was the North Koreans.

‘I do not want to be the Prime Minister who allowed this murderous regime to get away with this horrific assault on our lives and values.

‘As I speak to you, one of our submarines is preparing to launch a series of Trident nuclear missiles at Pyongyang and other targets in North Korea. Within one hour, Kim’s regime will be no more, and we shall once again be safe.’

It’s all clearly bonkers.

Next week, no doubt, we’ll be reading in our national newspapers details of how a teenage wizard has defeated Lord Voldermort and that Earth has beaten Alpha Centauri in the intergalactic ping pong championship (while wearing “daring low-cut swimsuits”).

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

6 comments on ““How a North Korean cyber attack could cripple Britain”. The Daily Mail goes bonkers”

  1. Coyote

    This is pure classic. It might be pure classic nonsense, but it is pure classic nonetheless. Still, I have remarks aside (to some people it might be considered nonsense, as well, but I argue it is more like silly fun (perhaps it shows some truth (not complete, I assure you!) to how much of a lunatic I am but what's life without some madness and fun (the two have a corelation)?)):

    It makes me think of parody news sites. The Onion, anyone? Even if not that, it is so bad that it could be a defacement in disguise. But then it IS the media… so maybe it isn't all that surprising (shocking yes, but surprising no – and yes it is different albeit subtle).

    As for the actual content? Where to begin. It is so absurd that I'm not sure the Die Hard analogy works so well. I know, I know, this is more fitting! It is _The Interview 2: North Korea's Revenge!_ Yes, I like that. Hollywood, get started please! (Maybe I should suggest this to… Sony ?)

    And as for your bit: "Next week, no doubt, we’ll be reading in our national newspapers details of how a teenage wizard has defeated Lord Voldermort and that Earth has beaten Alpha Centauri in the intergalactic ping pong championship (while wearing “daring low-cut swimsuits”)."

    Well I'll just say: I am glad magic is not real (it isn't? well, okay, REAL magic, isn't) because I know I would find it impossible to resist the darker magic (although I wouldn't go so far as Voldy … I'm no psychopath… a raving lunatic, yes, but not a psychopath (okay, nor am I a killer)!). Now… ping pong? I'm all for (although I'm not sure in that way per se, ping pong is still a lot of fun (as is pong (how ironic!)). I'm fortunate to have a full-size ping pong table… now if I could get a pool table, a pinball machine… and hell, let's just bring back the arcades (prefer one that is mine (funded by the public is fine although they would be furious with what I would want to do) so that I could lock out the public (but I'm willing to negotiate (with bias)))!).

  2. Jeff Mathis

    How many North Koreans does it take to show Kim Jong-Il where the "any key" is? 3.

  3. Dave Lingard

    This is typical of the British Press and this is the reason, I among many, have stopped buying such trashy newspapers. Even the once respected Daily Telegraph cannot find enough news to report,so instead of sensationalising, like the Mail, it sells WHOLE PAGE, adverts, so I'm told.
    Good reporters are no longer with us. TV is full of garbage, unless you are lucky to find a station that, for once, is transmitting something sensible.
    Give me a good book, anytime.

  4. Boomptney Meltroon

    This disease started before reporters started calling themselves "journalists", but that was the turning point that sent it all spinning out of control. Once they lost any sense that their job was supposed to be to report the news, it was all downhill from there.

    Journalists are people who wander around and write down their musings on their experiences in a journal. I supposed it's interesting reading, but it has nothing to do with reporting the news. This particular piece of trash about North Korea is neither reporting nor journalism; it's just bad fiction.

    The Daily Mail should be ashamed, but unfortunately that would require some integrity, or at least some innate sense of decency. That's something they're unlikely to cultivate while they're so busy appealing to the lowest common denominator.

  5. idbeholda

    With chilling realism, I can say with that The Daily Mail's headline reads more like something from The Onion.

  6. Campbell

    Reminds me of a News of The world Report from maybe 20 years or so ago where the headline was "B52 Bomber found on the Moon", and it referenced a page in the Tabloid. On the article page, it admitted that the B52 image on the Moon was a trick. Now the Wally World Trash Tabloids ( Walmart) are, I tell friends, just for the bottom of Budgie cages, which I usually get a non-plussed reaction to, so I translate that to "Bird Cage". Anyway, some of the rubbish in Walmart Tabloids is Just super -Silly, even compared to the brit Tabloids… its delivered as some sort of "truth" in a Sanguine kind of way.

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