Number crunching

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Dec 19, 2003

Calculating the average cost of a virus attack - estimates or guesstimates?

This month has seen a flurry of the traditional end-of-year predictions for the security challenges in the year ahead, along with a number of reports estimating the cost of virus attacks to businesses in 2003.

However, it is difficult (if not impossible) to truly quantify the 'average' cost of a virus attack with so many variables and subjective issues to be considered. This fact was suitably illustrated by two recent news reports published just one week apart in Computer Weekly (CW).

First, CW reported that a single virus attack could cost your business £66,000 - a figure arrived at by analyst firm Datamonitor. The firm estimated an average cost to businesses of £26,000 for the more 'serious' virus incidents, while 11 per cent of survey respondents said their companies had suffered greater than £66,000 losses from a single incident.

One week later, CW reported the results of a different survey, this time carried out by the Corporate IT Forum (Tif). The Tif survey indicated that the 'true cost' per virus attack to UK companies is an average of £122,000 - a figure nearly double that indicated by the Datamonitor findings (and more than four times greater than the £30,000 per attack cost estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Department of Trade and Industry's 2002 Information Security Breaches Survey).

Confused? All we can recommend is that figures such as these be taken with a dose of salt. While VB recognises the importance of bringing home the notion that virus attacks can and do cause significant losses and upheaval to businesses, it is unlikely that analysts will come up with a reliable formula for putting an accurate figure on those losses.



Posted on 19 December 2003 by Virus Bulletin

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