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In years recent and those to follow, the extensive use of computers and the internet will only increase in many aspects of our society’s functioning. While this may sound promising, unfortunately this reality also has to take into account the greater risks of computer viruses, which have rapidly spread in a perfect environment to infect new hosts. Computer viruses do more than the damage incidental to computers. They are responsible for exacerbating the economic conditions in particular, costing businesses about $55 billion dollars annually. In fact, recently the so-called “WannaCry” ransomware was reported to result in losses of up to $4 billion in just three days alone. In the early 2000s, ten new viruses were created daily. Today, a staggering one million new pieces of malware, which includes viruses, are being released every day.
From affecting the average home user to business establishments to government agencies, computer viruses are a ubiquitous problem. It is important to remember that viruses do not act in isolation as any costs borne by businesses, for example, in combating viruses must ultimately be passed on to the consumers. As a result of bolstering their cybersecurity capabilities, defense, detection, and analysis, companies incur irretrievable loss of revenue. But that is one of the many types of costs. Charges associated with repair may result in loss of productivity and work time. Indirect and incalculable costs can reach up to trillions of dollars. This includes insurance costs, brand devaluation, and marketing losses. In fact, many businesses and governments are abashed when admitting being a victim of viruses. This only makes it difficult to accurately estimate the drain on the economy. The only certainty is in the scope and reach of the viruses’ pervasive damage. One positive anecdote to this sad reality is that the capabilities of anti-virus programs and firewalls have improved. Moreover, many internet users and businesses have adopted common-sense security measures and procedures in effective cybersecurity agendas which have forced the attackers on the defensive as they seek to try newer strategies.
Computer viruses used to have a nonsensical objective that was nonetheless effective: create chaos and disrupt the economy. Today, the focus is not only on wreaking havoc but also in securing financial incentive. More attackers are discovering valuable data in the files of infected computers and taking full advantage in profiting from the information. This has a significant impact on the society in general and local communities in particular. The money that otherwise would have gone for legitimate, profitable, community-giving purposes is wasted trying to clean up a computer network. Computer viruses have evolved from using simple social engineering techniques to more insidiously worming their way around the internet. While computer technology has delivered tremendous benefits to the world in general, the unintended consequences of computer viruses reach far beyond the pesky annoyance a user may experience. By targeting the critical patchwork of computer infrastructure upon which a growing population of the world depends upon, computer viruses stand to seriously threaten the global economy.