As this year, ravaged by the pandemic, comes to a close, I come to think of an (arguably) closely related topic: computer viruses.
Security issues have been around as long as humanity has been around; Julius Caesar used his Caesar Ciphers to make it difficult for other people to read his messages. However, one thing that security issues in the modern ages differs from previous ages is that while security used to be mostly concerned with privacy -- that other people couldn't read your information -- or integrity -- that other people weren't changing your information -- nowadays most computer viruses attack availability, the so-called "Denial of Service" attacks.
Denial of Service attacks are notoriously difficult to defend against. The common Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are only defended by hosting many mirrors of websites over Content Distribution Networks (CDN)'s, or by being a tech supergiant and hosting massive pipes. For instance, Google recently received an DDoS attack of 2.5 Tbps -- yes, that's 2.5 Terabytes per second -- but, their services were not interrupted (although they did go down for an hour recently for different reasons). But this is obviously not the case for most websites, who fall victim to these attacks without any way out.
Denial of Service attacks can also be, unfortunately, very easy to write. If you have access to server, you could crash it by just running a simple shell script:
while true do mkdir DoS-Attack cd DoS-Attack done
while true do yes DoS-Attack & done
Obviously, don't run these programs on your personal computer, or for that matter, anybody else's.
The problem with these viruses is also that, in reality, we live in a computer monoculture, biologically(?) speaking. Most of the personal computers run Windows, the rest macOS, and some Linux. A large portion of servers run Linux. But those three make up the vast majority of all operating systems. Imagine if the world only had three species, all with negligble genetic mutation. If a single virus could affect all three species, life as we know it could be wiped off the planet. And the same goes for computer security. We live in a computer monoculture, and who knows if a computer pandemic will be our next pandemic.