The Impact of Computer Viruses on Electronic Commerce

With the rising influence of the Internet on the daily lives of many, commerce has shifted substantially from brick-and-mortar business to the online platform. As a result, consumers are purchasing and selling at rapid pace, all the while sending personal data and financial information across the wires. While the Internet has become an effective tool for productivity, it has also become a breeding ground for crime and malicious behavior. Malware is widely available for purchase, therefore providing a profitable way for criminals to commit cybercrime.

Viruses and other malicious malware can cause major negative financial loss for businesses, governments, the private sector, and consumers. When a company or business is the target of a cyberattack compromising its consumer data, the trust and confidence in e-commerce is undermined. Moreover, compromised data further damages the electronic economy when the consumer’s financials are impacted. According to a report entitled “Phishing – A Growing Threat to E-Commerce” published in The Business Review, virtual markets continuously face threats of identity theft and scams which cause short-term and long-term economic damage (Banday, M. & Qadri, J., 2007). Moreover, the OECD (2009) reported the financial impact of protection against various forms of malware, “Combined with indirect costs, the total costs of malware for key Internet market participants may well be above 10% of technology spending” (13). The average New York Stock Exchange corporation can suffer losses of 1% - 5% in just days following a cyberattack (Cashell, B., Jackson, W., et. al, 2004).

As a student interested in studying the international impacts of cyberwarfare and cybercrime, my concerns align with the threats posed to governmental infrastructures. For some, the main goal for committing cybercrimes is to profit financially. Attacks targeting a country’s data, infrastructure, or major banks and businesses are some examples of potential threats a government can face. Therefore, information security is a critical policy issue for many countries. Cyberattacks on infrastructure are typically short-lived and reap limited long-term benefits for criminals. Therefore it is imperative that governments retain the ability to protect from a cyberattack and recover from any successful attempts.

Undoubtedly, cybercrime is a lucrative, multi-million dollar industry, and the problems surrounding the growth of potential attacks continue to increase as the prevalence of Internet-based commerce takes over as the preferred method of commerce. The impacts of viruses and other malicious malware will always negatively affect the economic output of the targets. Companies and governments are tasked with the challenge of protecting consumer data and infrastructures. Looking to the future, it is important for these entities to stay aware of the threats posed on the Internet, and consumers should be made aware of the risks of viruses and malware in order to combat the threats posed to their data. 


Works Cited:

Banday, M.T., Qadri, J.A. (2007). “Phishing - A Growing Threat to E-Commerce,” The Business Review, ISSN: 0972-8384, 12(2), pp. 76-83.

Cashell, B., Jackson, W., Jickling, M., Webel, B. (2004). “The Economic Impact of Cyber-Attacks.” CRS Report for Congress. The Library of Congress. Retrieved from https://archive.nyu.edu/bitstream/2451/14999/2/Infosec_ISR_Congress.pdf.

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). (2009). “Computer Viruses and Other Malicious Software: A Threat to the Internet Economy.” Retrieved from: DOI:10.1787/9789264056510-en.