A pandemic is like a dDoS attack

For those who are struggling to understand the impact of a pandemic, and struggle even more with the measures taken against it (“lockdown” – “shelter-in-place” – “Ausgangs-Sperre”), this comparison may help a bit:

  • In a distributed Denial-of-Service (dDoS) attack, many clients at once overwhelm a service (such as a webserver).
  • The service was built to serve the expected number of requests, and it works like a charm.
  • The service has also some elastic reserves (cloud) to deal with sudden popularity.
  • But when a tital wave of requests for service come in (such as from a botnet, aimed at overwhelming the system), then the entire service breaks down, and only very few requests end up being served in the end.
  • The measures taken to slow down this sudden tital wave of requests is nothing else but slowing and channelizing the requests, so that requests get “queued” (valid requests within available capacities) and “triaged” (eliminate the botnet requests). The valid requests can thus be served individually, just as it was meant to be.
  • After the attack is over, a post-mortem analysis is performed, and measures taken to detect this kind of attack early, the services are improved to deal with this procedure better the next time of a dDoS attack, and measures are taken to prevent this particular attack if possible.

In a pandemic, similar patterns can be observed, and similar measures are taken to deal with it:

  • Virus infection rates [the “R(0)” factor] explosively create demans for service.
  • Health care systems are built, equipped, and staffed for the normal amount of patients to be served.
  • Health care systems also have some reserves built-in, and governments have some stock pile reserves for unexpected surges of needs.
  • But a pandemic infects people so quickly, that an explosive demand is created, and the system gets overwhelmed with 100 time or 1,000 times normal demand, and only a few of those end up being treated.
  • The measures taken to slow down this sudden demand is aimed at slowing the infection rate, so that incoming requests to do over-stress available capacities. Triage is performed on those who require service, to separate higher from lower priorities. This way everyone who is infected, can get the proper care and treatments, increasing the survivial rate.
  • After the pandemic is over, a post-mortem analysis is performed, to develop vaccines for this particular virus, and system improvements are made to make this entire process better for the next pandemic.

As much as denial-of-services are a nightmare to deal with, have great impact on the services offered, and cost the operators of the attacked service revenue, reputation, and other damages during the attack and the recovery period, when services are restored, pandemics are also a nightmare to deal with, have great impact on the affected population, and cause significant damages.

We have won the fight against pandemics, with ever improving results. The “Spanish Flu” (influenza, which started in Kansas USA with ‘patient zero’) caused 50 million deaths, and took a while to get under control. We have won the fight against virii such as the measels (“Masern”, with a very high infection rate of 15) and were able to prevent a global pandemic with smallpoc (“Pocken”) successfully.

For an excellent explanation of Corona / Covid-19, scientifically and easy to understand, watch this piece of the “Harald Lesch’s Kosmos” series (in German), broadcast on March 24th, 2020 in the ZDF TV channel (geoblocking to Germany applies – this may soon also be available on their Youtube channel). If you understand German, this is currently (during the Corona – Covid-19 pandemic) the best 43 minutes you can spend while locked down at your house, to appreciate science and why you are contained at home:




… and a subtle bonus: today’s Dilbert also shows how facts, research, and correct documentation overcome “alternative facts”, anti-vaccination campaigns, “fake news”, and the various cream puffs (“Windbeutel”) blubbering incoherently and without any proof — may they be orange (you know who) or brown (AfD). Hopefully all those can be helped if it is explained just right for their limited horizons:

https://dilbert.com/ – March 25th, 2020


It is NOT just the elderly affected by Covid-19:



Interactive self-analysis if you may be affected with Corona (prior to a test):