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

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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 isnit enough to keep the worldis Windows boxes safe, simply because most users canit 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 usersi 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 Canadais 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. "Thereis an incredible amount of [virus] activity, and collectively, itis 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 itis quickly becoming unusable from a business perspective."

VIRUS MUTATION.   That might be a bit of an overstatement. But even Sophosi 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 werenit 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.

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

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