Teenager finds virus, acclaimed world-saving genius
The accidental hero
Last week the UK press fell over itself to announce that an 18 year-old British computer studies student had saved the World.
Matthew Hillman, from the Isle of Wight, was first hailed a genius in a Sun exclusive but news of his stupendous achievement could not be contained and he was soon lionised in the Telegraph and acclaimed by the BBC.
Reading the articles you'd get the idea the young lad was a genius on the par with Alan Turing. So what had he done?
Invented a cure for cancer?
Thought up a way of saving the rain forests?
Emm, not that either.
So what had he done you wonder. Well he happened upon some malicious script during an Internet Relay Chat session, figures out around 400 sites might be affected, and then told the authorities about it. And, err, that's it.
For this he was hailed as a genius who has saved businesses millions, despite the fact that this is an everyday occurrence.
There's little to differentiate the story other than it was picked up by a local news agency and given the full treatment in The Sun, where it was obviously a slow news day.
We don't really blame it for that but The Telegraph's Stewart Payne and the BBC, which referred to a virus it called the "Trojan horse" throughout its uncredited piece, really ought to know better. Poor form, chaps. ®