In the 200 years since Austen wrote her beloved novels, they’ve been used for inspirational quotes, lesson plans, and trivia questions — but in a whole new twist, people are now using Jane Austen’s words to hack your computer. As antivirus software gets better and better at protecting you from malicious code, hackers are finding new and inventive ways of persuading your computers to accept malware, like hiding it in passages from Sense and Sensibility . Creepy.
Jane Austen loved a good laugh, and definitely got a kick out of hiding double meanings in clever wordplay, but something tells me she would have thought this was a step too far. The writing in Sense and Sensibility is some of the best from the last two centuries, and now we have to worry about reading it online in fear of losing all our credit card details and ending up as desolate as the Dashwood sisters. Of all the Internet safety tips I’ve learned so far, not reading Jane Austen is by far the most tedious.
This isn’t the first time Austen has found herself on the Internet: Pride and Prejudice was adapted into the amazing Lizzie Bennet Diaries webseries that had the world falling in love with Mr. Darcy all over again. Even the most old-fashioned Austenites have to concede that Austen’s wit and intelligence is well-suited to the Internet age; she probably would have had more Twitter followers even than Kim Kardashian. But this crosses the line; using Sense and Sensibility to spread malware is pretty much sacrilegious.
But while the news that Jane Austen is hacking your computer sounds pretty nightmarish, don’t worry too much: experts from Cisco say that there is “no cause for immediate concern” should you stumble across your favorite Austen passage on a random website. Hopefully now that the problem has been discovered, these malicious sites will be filtered out, and we can all go back to reading Sense and Sensibility in peace.
Images: Marcie Casas/Flickr; The Lizzie Bennet Diaries/YouTube