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Communications of the ACM


Protecting Computers and People From Viruses

Robin K. Hill

Credit: University of Wyoming May 29, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the virus analogy that gave rise to the use of the word "virus" from biology, to label a malicious program that attacks computer systems. The situation moves us to look into that, as another way to compare nature and artifact, and as an excuse to raise more abstract questions. We are moved also to stipulate that our mastery of both the biological and computational forms is shallow, and to invite other, better observations to follow. See Apvrille and Guillaume1 for greater depth and intriguing crossover speculation, Weis11 for yet more intriguing comparison, and Wenliang Du's website for detailed virus examples,3 which constitute dramatic reading for coders.


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