Computer Viruses Reach into Corporate Pocketbooks

By Matt Hines Print this article Print

According to a report by the Computer Security Institute and the FBI, corporations are losing more money to viruses than to any other type of IT attack, while unauthorized network access, stolen laptops and IP theft are also costing U.S. companies million

Computer viruses lead the list of IT threats costing U.S. companies millions of dollars in lost revenue and stolen intellectual property, according to a new report conducted in coordination with the FBI.

The Computer Crime and Security Survey contends that viruses continue to be the leading source of financial losses among businesses, followed by schemes related to unauthorized network access, stolen laptops and theft of proprietary information.

Those four categories accounted for 74 percent of all the money lost by the companies, government agencies and other private institutions involved in the study.

In its 11th year, the report was based on interviews with over 600 IT professionals and was overseen by San Francisco-based CSI (the Computer Security Institute) and the FBI's Computer Intrusion Squad.

Among the companies surveyed for the study, financial losses related to virus outbreaks totaled roughly $15.7 million over the last year, with attacks launched via network break-ins accounting for approximately $10.6 million. Money lost because of the theft of laptop computers or other wireless hardware totaled $6.5 million among respondents, while intellectual property theft totaled just over $6 million.

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Attacks on corporate Web sites were another common problem, with 59 percent of those interviewed saying their companies had been victimized online in more than 10 different incidents, with denial-of-service threats driving another $3 million in losses.

While still unauthorized network access continued to represent one of the top sources of financial loss related to IT crime, the CSI/FBI report found a slight decrease in the percentage of respondents reporting that they have experienced it over the last 12 months. Only 52 percent of companies said they had had network break-ins, while 53 percent reported similar incidents in 2005 and 56 percent in 2004. The number of companies who told the researchers that they had experienced no unauthorized network access increased to 38 percent, its highest rate in the history of the study.

Despite the continued problems with viruses and other threats, the survey found that the average amount of financial loss per respondent to the study moved downward. The number dipped from an average of $204,000 in 2005 to $168,000 in 2006, an 18 percent reduction. Increased investing in IT security technology was credited by the report as the primary reason for the drop.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Computer Viruses Reach into Corporate Pocketbooks

This article was originally published on 2006-07-24
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