'Direct' cost of malware infections on the decline

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jun 12, 2007

Report finds direct costs from malware infections declined over last two years.

A report by Computer Economics has stated that the financial impact of malware infections fell to $13.3 billion in 2006, from $14.2 billion in 2005, and $17.5 billion in 2004.

The report is based on a survey of IT security professionals and IT executives worldwide, who were asked about the frequency and economic impact of malware attacks on their organizations in the previous 12 months.

The report defines the 'direct' costs of malware infections as:

  • Labour costs involved in analysing, repairing and cleaning infected systems
  • Loss of user productivity
  • Loss of revenue due to loss or degraded performance of system
  • Other costs directly incurred as the result of a malware attack

The costs of anti-virus protection, ongoing costs of IT security staff, secondary costs of subsequent attacks enabled by the original malware attack, insurance costs, damage to the organization's brand, or loss of market value were not included in the figures.

Computer Economics suggests the decrease is the result of two major factors: the increasingly widespread use of anti-malware products and a shift in malware writers' motivation. CE reasons that the vast majority of business computers are protected by anti-virus systems, and the majority of PCs sold to consumers include anti-virus software as a standard feature. Meanwhile, the motivation of malware authors has shifted away from the desire simply to create widespread havoc, turning instead towards using their creations for financial gain - for example by sending spam, stealing credit card numbers, perpetuating click-fraud, or providing a backdoor into an organization's network.

Frank Scavo, President of Computer Economics, said: 'The cost of cleaning up a spyware infection might be a few thousand dollars in terms of labour, but if a hacker was using that piece of spyware to sniff passwords and gains access to the corporate network, the indirect or secondary damages could be enormous.'

While the report's findings are interesting, they will not be particularly helpful for anyone interested in the fight against malware - not least those tasked with persuading corporate budget holders to spend on IT security.

A summary, and the option to purchase the full report are available here.

Posted on 12 June 2007 by Virus Bulletin

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