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Blue Computer Hacker
Photograph by Bill Hinton via Getty Images

Volkswagens, Voting Machines and Hype Over Hacking

Aug 14, 2016

A version of this post originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

The "silly season" is upon us - when the bosses are on vacation, and media wretches have to come up with something to say even as the news goes on holiday. Cyber, it turns out, may have a silly season of its own.

This week I asked Tom Patterson, Chief Trust Officer of security giant Unisys, what he is reading for news — and his answer was "nothing" until the hype over DefCon and BlackHat settles down.

Patterson says those events produce theoretical demonstrations that are soon spun into too many fantastical, sky-is-falling scare stories. Want an example? Patterson said the panic over the hacking of Volkswagen keys is a prime example of something that is technically possible, but far from a real world problem.

What do you think, readers? Does Patterson sound like a "get off my lawn" kind of guy — or does he have a point about too much hype over hacking?

I came to share some of his sentiment this week when I reported on an alleged cyber-threat to the 2016 election. If heard news of the hack, it probably screamed something like this:

But when I dug into the story, the real threat of hackers hijacking the election is basically zero. For now, corrupt party bosses stuffing ballots are a bigger threat than a sinister cyber army. (I'm not the only one who found this - Bloomberg also described the threat as "highly unlikely").

On the other hand, as our weekly cyber round-up reflects, there's is serious stuff to worry about. (If you want to, that is. This time of year, my main worry is stirring the right amount of mint to muddle into my julep. Hope you feel the same)

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