According to the next issue of the scientific journal Acta Astronauticav by Richard Carrigan, planet Earth’s computers are wide open to a virus attack from Little Green Men.
The concern is raised in the a particle physicist at the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He believes scientists searching the heavens for signals from extra-terrestrial civilisations are putting Earth’s security at risk, by distributing the jumble of signals they receive to computers all over the world.
All signals picked up by Seti are broken up and sent across the internet to a vast band of volunteers who have signed up for a Seti screensaver, which allows their computers to crunch away at the signals, when they are not at their desks.
In his report, entitled Do potential Seti signals need to be decontaminated?, he suggests the Seti scientists may be too blase about finding a signal. “In science fiction, all the aliens are bad, but in the world of science, they are all good and simply want to get in touch.” His main concern is that, intentionally or otherwise, an extra-terrestrial signal picked up by the Seti team could cause widespread damage to computers if released on to the internet without being checked.
Dr Carrigan wants the Seti scientists to build safety features into their network to act as a quarantine so any potentially damaging signals can be trapped before they infect the internet.
“I think Carrigan makes an interesting suggestion. I don’t think that there’s much to worry about, however,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California told science magazine space.com.
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