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2003 Damages From Windows Viruses Tops 9/11 Insurance Claims

2003 Damages From Windows Viruses Tops 9/11 Insurance Claims

by , 2:15 PM EDT, October 2nd, 2003

UK security firm mi2g is suggesting that reliance on Microsoft could be a threat to the global economy. According to a statement received by TMO, global damage during the 3rd quarter, which ended in September, from malware (viruses and worms such as Swen, SoBig, and MSBlast) topped US$64.5 billion. This includes lost productivity from downtime, lack of access to networks, repair man hours, the man hours required to install the numerous Windows patches, etc.

As an example of this, TMO published a report earlier this week that looked at the differences between Windows and Mac networks in college campuses. That report found outages and lots of man-hours spent in fighting viruses and worms when students returned to campus.

To offer those global Q3 damage figures relevancy, mi2g compares them to the insurance claims resulting from the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Those claims cost the insurance industry between US$55 billion and US$70 billion, according to mi2g. Year to date, those damages top US$80 billion. From the firm's statement, titled "Over reliance on Microsoft - Threat to the global economy?"

Q3 damage from malware exceeded US$64.5 billion according to the mi2g economic valuation engine for damage analysis. US$28.8 billion of economic damage was caused in August and US$31.3 billion in September by malware primarily targeting Microsoft systems .  In sharp contrast damage from malware in Q2 was less than US$10 billion and in Q1 it was just above US$5.5 billion worldwide.  Q1 included the infamous Slammer worm that caused emergency call-centre disruption, airline ticketing problems and stopped ATM machines from dispensing cash in several instances across the globe including USA and South Korea in particular.

"Since 9/11 priorities have shifted to fighting the war on terrorism and warding off an energy crisis.  However, at present, the single biggest visible point for a global crisis is bug-ridden software that could crash large swathes of the computing ecosystem on which we increasingly rely," said DK Matai, Executive Chairman, mi2g.  "As more sophisticated malware attacks continue to develop, severe business disruption is likely and could cause a total collapse in trust associated with present computing software."

The analysis carried out by the mi2g Intelligence Unit reveals that the global economy has been saved from an even worse outcome so far this year because the malware incidents in August and September were not as malevolent as they could have been.  For example, the major virus and worm versions did not delete critical data or decapitate computer systems immediately on infection.  The next variants of malware 

You can find more information on mi2g at the company's Web site.

Other news from mi2g of late includes the fact that Mac OS X and BSD servers were the least breached servers over a 12-month period.

The Mac Observer Spin:

US$64.5 billion in damages in just one quarter: For those who followed the Microsoft piper for so long, it would seem as if it's time to pay up, and that has a literal as well as figurative meaning. Those kinds of numbers are just mind boggling.

There's a lesson here for IT, and that message is that diversity saves you money, unless you speak out on the subject and get fired. Hopefully, that will be the exception, rather than the rule, and we can hope that more IT people realize they have been sold a worthless bill of goods by Microsoft's salespersons.

In the meanwhile, we find it absolutely amazing that Microsoft's historical problems with security have cost more than the damages relating to the 9/11 attacks. That makes it all the more ironic that the US Department of Homeland Defense recently signed a huge deal with Microsoft, but maybe that's just us.

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