Do Viruses Make Us Stronger?

I've been reading and watching more science fiction recently than I've done in a while. In a number of plots humans fight aliens by infecting their computers with computer viruses. It seems pretty far fetched since viruses typically exploit loopholes in the programming of operating systems and applications – if you never seen a computer system before, what are the chances you’ll be able to effectively disrupt it with some additional operative code that you ‘whip up’? Not good I’d say. On the other hand, humans are hard at work trying to develop viruses all the time and counter-measures to them.

I was stuck by a report that a cell phone virus has been spotted in the US for the first time: Cabir mobile virus found in U.S. CNET News.com. If aliens came to Earth, they might be hard pressed to find a virus exploit that hasn’t already been thought of, even assuming they first learned the applicable computer language(s). When my wife made the comment: “Why do people spend their time trying to break critical systems that everyone uses like cell phones?” I got to thinking that at least it makes our systems more resistant to alien attack… On the other hand, maybe alien systems are wide open because the morality of those aliens could not conceive of deliberate disruption of critical systems for fun.

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