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SoBig.F Windows Virus Cost The World As Much As US$1 Billion

SoBig.F Windows Virus Cost The World As Much As US$1 Billion

by , 11:30 AM EDT, August 26th, 2003

BusinessWeek has published an excellent report on the Windows virus that cause so many problems around the world on what seems like a regular basis. While Microsoft releases patch after patch to keep Windows slightly behind all the security flaws that riddle the operating system, it still isn't enough to keep the world's Windows boxes safe, simply because most users can't keep up.

We have often mentioned the fact that Windows virus and other security problems cost the world billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. According to BusinessWeek, SoBig.f, the latest viral craze to sweep the Internet (and fill Mac users' e-mail inboxes with unbelievable amounts of harmless, but bandwidth and time consuming viral e-mails), alone cost as much as US$1 billion in lost productivity. From the BusinessWeek article:

While a major crisis was averted, the SoBig virus still managed to infect half a million computers worldwide, crashing mail servers and sending hundreds of millions of bogus messages using a technology called multithreading that allows programs to send multiple messages simultaneously. The back-to-back chaos from Blaster and SoBig caused delays in Amtrak trains, closed banks in Norway, and interrupted Internet service at department stores in Singapore. Departments at several state governments shut down to deal with infected machines, and Air Canada's check-in systems checked out under the weight of the attack.

[...]

Damage estimates range from $500 million to more than $1 billion in lost productivity, hours wasted, and lost sales. Clearly, in terms of cyber-misery, the past two weeks have set a new high-water mark. "There's an incredible amount of [virus] activity, and collectively, it's becoming very annoying," says Dave McCurdy, CEO of the Internet Security Alliance (ISA), a nonprofit advocacy and education group based in Arlington, Va. Chris Belthoff, a senior security analyst at antivirus software maker Sophos, worries about the eventual impact: He thinks such worm attacks are turning e-mail into "such a polluted protocol that it's quickly becoming unusable from a business perspective."

VIRUS MUTATION.   That might be a bit of an overstatement. But even Sophos' mail servers -- patched, updated, and armored against the SoBig attack -- slowed under the bombardment of e-mail traffic unleashed by the SoBig worm. Technically, Apple machines weren't supposed to be vulnerable to the Microsoft-targeted virus. Yet, Apple users with the misfortune of having their e-mail address stored in a machine infected by SoBig also had to spend a good deal of time erasing bogus e-mails. In fact, increasingly, anyone who surfs the Net will find they have been either directly or indirectly affected by the rising tide of malicious software floating on the Web.

There's much more in the full article, and we recommend it as a very interesting read.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It's downright criminal how much these Windows problems cost us, and make no mistake about it, these problems cost all of us. Lost productivity in the corporate world gets passed on to consumers and shareholders alike, one way or another, and in the world of government, that's your tax dollars going right down the drain.

Remember, too, that this happens many times every year, and yet the lemmings keep feeding at the Microsoft trough. The ironic thing is that the joke says that Mac users drink the Steve Jobs's Kool-Aid, but we think it more appropriate to ask what Windows users are drinking. We'll take the Apple juice any day over the problems they deal with each and every day.

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