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Thumb Drive Infects Space Station Computers With Malware

If you’ve worked with computers at your job or at home long enough you’ll eventually end up with Malware, a virus or some other potentially computer-killing bug through (virtually) no fault of your own.  As a general rule, death isn’t the consequence for your download.

The Olympic torch isn’t the only thing brought aboard the ISS. A thumb drive temporarily crippled computers on board. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

That wasn’t necessarily the case for cosmonauts on the International Space Station this week.  By simply plugging in a USB thumb drive into the ISS computer a Russian cosmonaut nearly crippled the computer system hundreds of miles about the Earth’s surface.  While Russian officials are offering few details of the troubles caused by the Malware it’s safe to assume it wasn’t a pleasant afternoon for those involved.

We’ve all had to deal with IT people, whether on the phone or in person.  It’s rarely (closer to never) a fun experience with a real “people person”.  Imagine dealing with a Russian IT guy over the walkie-talkie trying to explain you were just updating your ITunes account with the new Lady Gaga track when suddenly things went haywire.  I’ve looked into the eyes of an IT person while trying to explain what it was that I was downloading at the time that led to the virus or Malware, knowing that they’re assuming the worst.

When I screw up and download Malware or a virus at work, it affects a dozen or so people for a small amount of time while the mess is cleaned up.  Orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station is not the place you want be when you mess up the work computers.  What’s the Russian word for “oops”?


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