Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stone Age Mentality in a Space Age Setting

This is not, strictly speaking, "news;" but it was good to see it reported on the BBC NEWS Web site:

Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS [International Space Station] in July were infected with a virus known as Gammima.AG.

The worm was first detected on earth in August 2007 and lurks on infected machines waiting to steal login names for popular online games.

Nasa said it was not the first time computer viruses had travelled into space and it was investigating how the machines were infected.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of this item is how unsurprising it is. We have become too used to reading about such NASA bungles. The real irritant, however, comes further down in the BBC text:

The laptops carried by astronauts reportedly do not have any anti-virus software on them to prevent infection.

This seems to imply that just about every business and school takes care of its computers (or at least the ones that get shot up to the ISS) better than NASA does! The BBC report concluded with the following "response" from NASA:

Nasa told Wired News that viruses had infected laptops taken to the ISS on several occasions but the outbreaks always only been a "nuisance".

I suppose E. M. Forster is not required reading over at NASA. After all, in his cautionary tale, "The Machine Stops," the machine in question comes to a halt due to an increasing number of "nuisances" and a decreasing number of people capable of fixing the problems!

No comments: