The hoax took the nation by storm. And it actually became a social virus much to the delight of whoever must have released it in the first place. And true to the traditions of the ‘Jinn in London Mosque‘ and ‘Bomb Blast at Grumander’ news, this was aired on the TVs only to be later declared as a hoax in the slides.
We saw a number of interesting things happening out there. As if the constant calls from friends and knocks at the office room from colleagues was not enough, my doctor wife wore the most serious and somber of the faces I have seen on her in the past seven years when she asked me: ‘What will happen now?’ – taking the troublesome news item as a ground reality in the first place. And every tech savvy person in my circle had similar stories to tell about from their respective surroundings.
On the face of it, it seems a bad situation that we had the hoax getting so successful in the public. However, this very event once again proved the fact that the nation has truly gone cellular in the past few years with everyone – okay ‘almost’ everyone – having a piece of this convenience. We cannot blame the masses for the lack of technical acumen to separate a hoax from a real trouble – this is how the general public behaves the world over. The other silver lining very much visible was the voluntary squad of techies that stood up and fought the hoax in a distributed manner. This again is a sign of the youngsters getting a hang on the technology and its possibility brackets.
Since the majority of the hoax message talked about ‘an unknown or weird’ number being the culprit, I am tempted to ponder on the possibility of this being an attempt to curb illegal voice termination where it is given that the origination number would be hidden behind a dummy number which generally is also weird and distinct from regular numbers that we receive during the day. Of course, such an measure to counter illegal call termination would be silly for it will have a production cycle of days if not hours but it seems probable that for as long as the hoax caused the greatest panic, illegal calls were probably not terminated into Pakistan 🙂
Another thought that quickly hit after we saw the panic waves around the network was whether the industry has now reached a state of stability and harmony to do a structured search from the SMS records of the six cellular operators and make an attempt to track where the stuff started from in the first place. Even if we are too late, or the records are too many or the stuff originated out of Pakistan, an effort in this direction will sure teach us a thing or two. Internet is even more complex and multi-partied and yet virus and malware writers do get identified when efforts are put in. This would be more productive than the pacifying announcement by PTA on the same topic.
And finally, since a lot of friends were debating whether there is a possibility of this being crafted by the cellular operators in the first place for increased SMS traffic between their users, I can only confirm that this is a long established practice in the operators to ‘seed’ interesting and most-likely-to-be-forwarded messages to small number of customers every now and then only to see a ripple effect of the messages moving around the network, brining in revenue.