Troublemakers in cyberspace

We are always amazed when smart people turn to criminal — or even just malicious — endeavors.

Probably there is no better example of wasted brains than computer viruses. Most of the darn things don’t make a cent for their inventors — they just disrupt other people’s lives.

But we did see an attempt by hackers to exact a bribe from their victims. An innocent email user clicks on a message and suddenly files on his computer are corrupted or encrypted. Attempting to open the infected files reveals a message that a key to fix the data can be purchased.

The folks we know who were attacked did not attempt to purchase the “key” so we are not sure how the purchase would have occurred without the hacker being caught. But someone smart enough to write such malware probably has that figured out.

The best advice is twofold:

1) Have virus protection on your computer.

2) And, if you don’t recognize an email sender’s address, don’t open the message.

For whatever reasons, there are sick people out there who just want to ruin your day. Tracking down and getting rid of a virus is a great way to waste time and money.

Computers are wonderful tools and the internet has made global communication instantaneous. It’s just too bad that some very smart people are happier creating mischief than using their brains for society’s benefit.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.