Media Perpetuates Myths About “Virus Attack” on Inspire Magazine

In the image above, taken from page 7 of the second issue of Inspire, the magazine's authors reinforce the illusory belief that the first issue had been "struck with a virus".

Public Intelligence

A recent article by the Washington Post is helping to spread the mistaken belief that Inspire magazine’s first issue was attacked by a virus which corrupted most of its content.  The article states that while U.S. sources debated how to sabotage or otherwise “attack” the publication of the magazine, which is said to be produced by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group of British “cyber warriors” took action.   The article states that “when Inspire launched on June 30, the magazine’s cover may have promised an ‘exclusive interview’ with Sheik Abu Basir al-Wahishi, a former aide to Osama bin Laden, and instructions on how to ‘Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.’ But pages 4 through 67 of the otherwise slick magazine, including the bomb-making instructions, were garbled as a result of the British cyber-attack.”  The article also states that it took almost two weeks for a corrected and complete version of the magazine to emerge.

There is just one problem with this: it is not true.  The first issue of Inspire magazine was not “hacked” or “attacked” with a virus.  Instead, as we have conclusively demonstrated in the past, it simply contains 64 pages of ASCII cupcake recipes which were inserted into the original PDF document.  The 64 pages of “garbled” text in the original version of Inspire are quite literally an ASCII text dump of a PDF file containing cupcake recipes featured on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show that was written by an author named Dulcy Israel.  This can be verified by anyone who wishes to look for themselves.  We have included detailed instructions on how to prove for yourself that the “corrupted pages” in the original release of Inspire magazine are, in fact, cupcake recipes.

Later issues of Inspire magazine perpetuated the myth that the initial release had been “hit by a virus” and media reports continue to repeat this claim without criticism.  We believe that there is ample evidence to doubt the authenticity of Inspire magazine.  We have gone to extreme lengths to try to get people to, in some small way, examine the publication for themselves.  We are one of the only websites that has made every issue of Inspire magazine available because we want people to read it themselves and decide on its authenticity.  Our refusal to remove the magazines made national news in the Netherlands after the Dutch Police physically came to our hosting provider and attempted to take our servers offline.  However, we continue to press the issue and make the magazine available because people must know how absurd this publication really is.  Please forgive us for doubting the authenticity of a publication reportedly produced by a terrorist that eats smoked turkey at the Pentagon.  But, you really must see the Ultimate Mowing Machine for yourself to understand the fully fraudulent nature of Inspire magazine and, sadly, many journalists simply have not done that.

Prove it for Yourself in 5 Easy Steps

You may prove for yourself that the “corrupted pages” in the original release of Inspire magazine are cupcake recipes simply by following these steps:

1. Download the original “corrupted” version of Inspire magazine using our unaltered mirror of the document, 2.98 MB. You can confirm that we have not altered the document by examining the PDF’s timestamp metadata.

2. Expand the margins of the PDF so that you can see the filename and path at the top of the page. You should see something that looks like this:

3. Download both Ellen DeGeneres’ Best Cupcakes in America by Dulcy Israel (ellenbca.pdf) and any free hex editor, such as HxD, and open the file.  Alternatively, you can view our HTML version of a full hex dump (4.43 MB) of the ellenbca.pdf file.

4. Compare the first page of “garbled text” in Inspire magazine with the ellenbca.pdf hex dump beginning around line 00002330.  You should immediately be able to identify strings of text that are identical in both of the files.  You can also copy small strings of text from the “garbled pages” and search for it in the hex dump to find its corresponding match.  Here is an image depicting these similarities to help you begin to identify them in the files yourself:


5. These identical strings of code identify the ellenbca.pdf file as being identical with the file that produced the “garbled text” of pages 4-67 of the original issue of Inspire magazine.  Congratulations!  You have now done more actual research than most journalists do in a week!

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1 comment for “Media Perpetuates Myths About “Virus Attack” on Inspire Magazine

  1. June 3, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Have you noticed that Issue 3 of Inspire is missing? Seems rather odd..

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