The words “Black Friday” took on a whole new meaning last week as the world’s largest cyberattack infected over 200,000 computers in 150 countries. The malicious software assault or “malware” affected universities, major corporations and even an entire hospital system in Great Britain; its’ devastating effects continue even now.
It is darkly impressive that one person, or perhaps several individuals, could possess the intelligence to implement such malevolence on such a global scale. More impressive, though, and certainly more positive, were the decisive actions of a 22-year-old researcher from England known as “MalwareTech.” Through quick ingenuity and more than a little luck, they were able to locate and activate a “kill switch” that rapidly slowed the spreading of the virus.
While most people remain blissfully ignorant about the intricate and surreal world of “ransomware” and cyberspace, the spreading of malicious information is not limited to computer programming. The receiving and transmission of negative information and damaging dialogue is part of our ordinary, daily communication. It can happen through normal conversation, via text message, or by email. The same perpetuation of malevolence is a perennial temptation and one that can have far-reaching effects. It may appear to be much less serious than a cyberattack, but our ordinary means of communication has the power to destroy more than hardware and corporate data. Our words have a profound effect on human souls. Would that there were more savvy individuals working diligently in the world today to locate and activate the “kill switch.”