Consumer Reports: Viruses and Spyware Cost Computer Users $7.8 Billion

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By: switchtoamac at: 12:49 PM on August 11, 2006 | Comments (3)
A Consumer Reports "State of the net 2006" nationwide survey found that consumers paid as high as $7.8 billion over the past two years to replace or repair their computers that were infected with viruses and spyware.  The survey assessed the likelihood and impact of spam, viruses, spyware, and phishing.  The data from the survey demonstrates that PC users are suffering massive losses from Internet hazards that can cause havoc, slow down systems, and even make the systems unusable.


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.

Switch To A Mac Commentary

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.

You can view the entire article here.

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3 Reader Comments

I made the switch last week (dual core mac mini) and I must say it's definitely one of those instances where you kick yourself for not doing it sooner.
After scanning this article, I'm kind of amazed that all I did to protect myself was turn on the internal OS X firewall before I plugged in my DSL modem.
Should I have done more? Is there any more to even do?

I love the Mac but it cannot save you from phishing or spam (although the Mac OS X Mail application does have a good spam filter). Perhaps OS X 10.5 can help with phishing though...


Please refer to the article titled How to Switch Part Eight: Setup a New Mac

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