Implications for business and the government
Companies have tried to market the virus crisis on a large scale,
in order to increase the profitability of anti-virus software products.
There are legitimate public interest reasons for alerting the computer
community to the potential for harm in each new virus. This is particularly
true as the nature of viruses becomes more sophisticated and dangerous,
and as many societies today depend more heavily on information systems.
However, these companies have sometimes over-exaggerated the threat
during an outbreak of a particular virus so as to help boost sales
of anti-virus products. Many consumers then pay a rather large sum
only to discover that the severity of the virus was not anything like
these companies' prediction. Such companies run the risk of doing
a disservice to the public they serve, and the customers they depend
Viruses also result in the loss of large amount of revenue for
both the private sector and the government as well. The International
Computer Security Association's 1998 Computer Virus Prevalence Survey
noted that forty-eight percent of companies surveyed indicated that
virus infections had cost them nothing. Nevertheless, millions of
dollars will be and have been lost through damaged data or time
spent detecting and removing viruses from corporate information
systems and government systems likewise.
Some viruses are able to tap into systems and gain access to important
data, which can lead to company disaster if vital information reaches
the hands of an unauthorised user or possibly a rival company. When
a virus is detected within businesses, it can be costly. An example
would be the ILoveYou virus that hit the government, corporations,
and private sectors. Large amounts of data were erased, the virus
was sent to everyone on the user's address book, chat rooms were
penetrated and everyone in them were infected with the virus, it
replaced audio with itself, and finally it incorporated a password-stealing
program in Internet Explorer. This virus spread worldwide in a few
hours and there was widespread damage, estimated at a minimum of
15 billion dollars by the United States Senate 2000.
Another costly fact is that when business networks are shut down
to fix the problem, valuable work time is lost, and this translate
to loss of money. The best way for corporations to prevent this
type of damage is to keep up to date with anti-virus software and
train employees in computer skills. One particular company, Owens
Corning, takes extra precautions.