ET might be a hacker? Give me a break

OK, I know it’s hard to get noticed out there in academia. All those people publishing more and more esoteric bits and pieces about stuff in smaller and smaller niches. BUT This guy takes the cake.

From the Guardian Unlimited New – Scientists, be on guard … ET might be a malicious hacker

The concern is raised in the next issue of the journal Acta Astronautica by Richard Carrigan, 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.

Computer scientists argue that to hack a computer, or write a virus that will infect it, requires a knowledge of how the computer and the software it is running work: a computer on Earth is going to be as alien to the aliens as they would be to us. But Dr Carrigan says there is still a risk (Dr Carrigan there is a bigger risk of you getting hit by a car, but I’ll bet you still commute to work).

Rather than dismiss his concerns, 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.

Can I have what he’s having? {Please remember I’m not making this up… I ‘m not sure about Dr Carrigan.}

Disclaimer: PRETENTIA.COM has been donating cpu cycles to the Seti project since Feb 2000 and has processed around 1588 workunits in 17,096 hours so far. Not a lot but every bit helps. Go to and join up.

UPDATE: Schneier On Security post here.

Categorized as Mondays

1 comment

  1. Thatch,

    Thanks for finding the ET article.
    I am not surprised about the scientist worried about ET being a terrorist.
    Fermi Lab is in my childhood home town, Batavia IL, and they tend to employ nutters. We lived on the main road parallel with the lab and I could easily see it from my window. It is just a weird place. Because they need to have a lot of room to accommodate the rings they used the land above as grassland for buffalo, which would occasionally escape and run amok through Batavia. very entertaining as a child.

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