I was going to ask How did the computer virus get uploaded into the mothership in Independence Day?, so here is my 2nd question!

Those aliens had activated [some kind of hardware firewall] blue colored ray firewall, but why they did not have any software firewall or antivirus on their system?

As they already have developed a client-server system it's also a must to have some secure system to guard against malicious attacks!

[I'm also curious about how did Jeff Goldblum developed the virus without any SDK or manual, though there is a little chance that they (alien) were also running some kind of VM which could translate (human developed) binary info to their own (and perhaps they have used this system to get through satellite communication system) such executable data format]

  • Who says there wasn't? Apr 27, 2012 at 9:02
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    The whole idea of interfacing alien electronic technology is so totally bogus, like hacking the nsa server with a steam engine.. Try connect and transfer data from a modern PC with a ENIAC mainframe. This special plot hole ruined the whole film for me. Jul 2, 2012 at 23:39
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    Simple. Risk = likelihood * cost. Hiring a sysadmin full time seemed more expensive than it was worth, since the chances of humans also using TCP/IP and DNS without DNSSEC extensions seemed pretty low. But we all have 20/20 hindsight.
    – root
    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:07
  • We’ve all let our Norton subscriptions lapse when we’re busy with more important interstellar invasions. Jun 1, 2023 at 22:19

3 Answers 3


The reason they may not have had a firewall may be a very prosaic one.

They may not have needed one.

Humans use security software because there are other humans who create viruses or attempt to subvert shared computer system for personal gain. These aliens may have a completely different social structure that does understand or need to have members creating a means of subverting a computerize system or services in their culture.

While this might be difficult for humans to conceive of, we should be careful of placing our views on aliens when they come to Earth. The alien, growing up on a different world, may have completely different motivations for how they develop or use their technology, even if it resembles technology we use. In the case of Independence Day, this was just one more fortunate coincidence.

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    The next time aliens invade Earth, they won't be so naive. Apr 26, 2012 at 16:24
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    Downvote for the editorial regarding Goldblum's ability to hack into the alien computer system. There is an answer on this very site, linked very conspicuously in the question, that renders this idea plausable, maybe even likely, from an extremely technical perspective. Since this commentary isn't germane to the question, and it would be more productive as information in the other question/answer, I downvoted. Apr 26, 2012 at 17:14
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    @MajorStackings Will they? Unless the mothership managed to send out a detailed distress call before it was destroyed it's unlikely that any other groups of the aliens even know how the fleet was destroyed. Also if as Chris proposed, the idea of a computer virus attack is literally unthinkable for the Aliens it's quite possible they'd never be able to work out a defense. Travis Taylor used aliens with an 'unthinkable' type weakness in his book The Quantum Connection. It was a decent story overall; but giving the enemy that sort of vulnerability ends up somewhat cheesy by default. Apr 26, 2012 at 17:50
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    Upvote to counter @NathanC.Tresch - see my comment on the accepted answer in the linked question. Summary of comment: The movie renders that explanation invalid, because the ship couldn't be powered up until the alien mothership was in orbit.
    – Izkata
    Apr 26, 2012 at 18:06
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    @NathanC.Tresch No, he says that our power sources are incompatible with their technology, so they couldn't get much research done until "just recently" (around when the movie starts).
    – Izkata
    Apr 26, 2012 at 18:59

There can be no canon answer, I think. But here's some speculation...

The aliens seemed to have the power to control human minds...it's not much of a stretch to consider that the entirety of the invasion force was probably under strict control of some entity at the top. Not quite a hive-mind, per se, but a situation where disobedience or outright rebellion simply was not possible.

Now let's say that this is a civilizational norm, i.e., that it's not merely the invasion force that is like this, but a very rigidly hierarchical society whereby certain thoughts are unthinkable - not unthinkably terrible, the way we usually define it, but literally unthinkable - beyond conception. If the idea of someone subverting your computer system is literally unthinkable, you won't build defenses against it.

It you further consider the difficulties involved for the humans to even interface with those systems, I don't think that it's terribly unrealistic.

So to answer the lede: "Perhaps there was no firewall because the vulnerability was culturally inconceivable to the aliens". On to your second question...

Keep in mind, all Goldblum does in the movie is grab a tech, and later install the virus. I think there's a strong reason to believe that he had nothing to do with the actual creation of the virus...it was likely created by one of these techs who, like Dr. Okun, had been studying the Roswell vessel for years.

The big problem with this line of thinking is the dialogue which indicates that the ship hadn't been active until the motherships arrived...perhaps they were referring to power systems on the ship - maybe they'd been able to study the computer systems for years. I think that's the only reasonable explanation.


They are a eusocial collective, the idea of a malicious program probably never occurred to them . I also don't think they've ever encountered an enemy who has been utilizing their technology to basically invent the computer and programing.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This is essentially what the first answer says. Do you have any additional evidence for this that would make this a better answer?
    – DavidW
    Jun 1, 2023 at 0:03
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    – Aaron Abel
    Jun 1, 2023 at 0:25
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    I hope this helps
    – Aaron Abel
    Jun 1, 2023 at 0:28
  • Hi. Welcome to SF&F. That is an interesting article and it gives some kind of answer to some people's objections to his having been able to do that at all, but does not appear to relate to why they didn't have a firewall.
    – Basya
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:42

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