If you thought it was bad enough checking for spam and malicious emails incoming from terrestrial origins some astrophysicists have been musing on how and why extra-terrestrials may want to infect and bring down your system.

Some scientists have recently published a paper which suggests that aliens might well be sending us malicious messages. Not for the purposes of stealing our online banking credentials but to cause the collapse of life on Earth. The suggestions are made in a publication by two astrophysicists Michael Hippke and John Learned.

It proposes that our radio telescopes could one day receive a message of extra-terrestrial origin. Our first instincts would be to analyze the signal and search for patterns that will give a clue to the message meaning. By doing so the authors suggest we may be guilty of infecting our computers and the global communications networks with alien malware designed (by malevolent extra terrestrials) to put an end to humanity. They suggest also that Alien Intelligence (AI) may threaten to make our sun go supernova unless we comply with their demands or they may offer us cures to incurable diseases, and in return we should build self-replicating nano-bots that end up taking over the planet…

Per ardua ad astra
I must admit to ignorance of a typical day in the life of an astrophysicist; I’m guessing much of their time is spent looking through telescopes at stars. During daylight when most of us work they are probably sat around drinking coffee and drumming their fingers on the desk, waiting for it to get dark before they can leap into the observatory and start work. Astrophysicists are undoubtedly an intelligent bunch; all that downtime mixed with a furtive imagination and a caffeine overload is a recipe for creative postulating.
There are so many billions of visible stars and star systems that it is arrogant to think that Earth is the one planet that supports life. Our nearest neighboring star is the triple star system Alpha Centauri, just over four light years away. At that distance any information they gather from our radio or TV signals will already be four years out of date. Any two-way exchange will take eight years minimum. Civilizations at greater distances may receive extremely feeble signals lost in background noise.

Who knows, maybe they really are on to something, the next time you find yourself developing code for a new application and the software doesn’t do exactly what you were hoping it would (and you’ve definitely checked every other possible cause for the error), maybe it’s time to stop and point the finger of suspicion skywards…