Not very difficult at all?

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"Cyberattack thwarted by flipping 'kill switch' but experts fear new blitz", ABC News 5/13/2017

The attack appears to have been thwarted by private cybersecurity researchers who identified and triggered the malware’s "kill switch," which halted the attacks before it spread throughout U.S. networks, a senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed, but it is unclear whether, the official said, a modified attack will soon be launched.  

"That is a huge concern right now," said Darien Huss, a senior security research engineer at Proofpoint who was among the researchers who helped disable the virus, called "WannaCry," told ABC News today. "It would not be very difficult at all to re-release this ransomware attack without a kill switch or without an approved kill switch that only they can activate."

That second "without" should be "with", I think. Anyhow we've got most of the usual misnegation suspects — a modal, a scalar predicate, a few negatives — which make sentences semantically difficult. And here the disjunction of prepositional phrases adds to the  difficulty.


  1. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 14, 2017 @ 9:45 am

    What about the completely superfluous "told ABC News today" at the end of the previous sentence?

  2. J said,

    May 14, 2017 @ 11:05 am

    The "completely superfluous 'told ABC News today'" is not completely superfluous. TV journalists are trained to do that. There's a difference between "we got the quote ourselves" and "we picked up the quote from a different source."

  3. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 14, 2017 @ 11:48 am

    J: Try reading it without all the embedded qualifiers:

    “That is a huge concern right now,” said Darien Huss […] told ABC News today.

  4. TonyK said,

    May 14, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

    The quote seems perfectly correct to me: It would be very easy to release this ransomware attack with the kill switch removed, thus making it unkillable.

  5. TonyK said,

    May 14, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

    Oh sorry, I posted too soon…Can somebody important delete these two?

  6. DWalker07 said,

    May 15, 2017 @ 11:54 am

    Mark, I also think that the quote was right — it would not be hard (it would be easy) to re-issue the ransomware without a kill switch.

    If it were re-sent without a kill switch, the software would be much harder to kill.

    It sounds right to me.

  7. DWalker07 said,

    May 15, 2017 @ 11:57 am

    Wait: I think I fell into the same trap as TonyK. It's the SECOND "without" that's probably wrong.

    Yes, it's confusing. :-)

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