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Consumer Reports: Viruses and Spyware Cost Computer Users $7.8 Billion
Spam, or unwanted commercial e-mail, as the largest computer security problem. Consumer Reports that spam is as elevated as it was last year. Spam is classified as taking most of the e-mail traffic on the Internet and afflicts millions of users. The survey also found that over 50 percent of users experienced high levels of spam and 43 percent alleged they experienced an invasion of privacy.
Viruses and worms are also reported at the elevated levels, similar to last year. The survey found that despite a severe outbreak in the past year, viruses continue to remain widespread and hazardous. In fact, 39 percent of survey respondents reported an infection in the past two years. Key data points:
- 34 percent had to reformat hard drives
- 16 percent permanently lost important data
- 8 percent had to replace hardware.
Viruses are the most expensive hazard as 25 percent experienced a major/costly problem. Costs came in at $5.2 billion and although the median cost of an infection was $109, some respondents suffered costs in the thousands.
Infection from spyware, or software that can collect sensitive information about users and their computing habits, declined but Consumer Reports still classifies the hazard as an epidemic. Greater than 12 percent of users experienced a major/costly problem and nearly 1 million households replaced thier computers as a result of a spyware infection. Costs came in at $2.6 billion with an average $100 cost per incident.
Phishing, fake e-mails and web pages that trick users into providing sensitive data by giving the impression that they are from familiar financial institutions, were as extensive as they were in last year but the cost per victim was up fivefold and the number of fradulent sites has risen at a startling pace. This is a clear sign that phishing is becoming an more serious hazard to users. Costs came in at $630 million with an average $805 cost per incident.
Although no platform is completly safe from online hazards and threats, Mac OS X's inherient security implementation and features protect Mac users from viruses, spyware, and malicious code. If you are one of the millions of PC users who have been the subject of spam, a virus infection, spyware attack, phishing scam, or are just tired of the security issues that plague the Windows platform, I urge you to consider making the switch.
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- Please refer to the Security Category