Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The economics of a computer virus

Note. The text below is part 2 of the paper titled "Epidemiological Modeling of Computer Virus Propagation." It is still part of Chapter 1 - Introduction.

Computer viruses have caused enormous economic losses.  The computer virus named “I Love You” was reported to be the most damaging virus ever released. Nine days after its release by a Filipino student in May 2000, this virus infected some 50 million computer systems at a cost estimated to be in the region of $5B5.  
Viral attacks have never been more alarming. Aside from the traditional virus, computer threats now include worms, Trojan horses, and bombs – a time or event triggered computer virus. Also, there is the so-called blended threat which is a mix of two or more threats.

The huge economic losses brought about by computer viruses justify the need for computers to be secured from all possible threats6. But securing the computer system is more difficult given the widespread use of the Internet. The Internet (especially its social networking sites) made it possible for people across the globe to communicate and share files easily. 

It is in file sharing that the computer virus gets propagated – the greater the number of files shared, the more widespread and devastating the computer virus can be.
5Seemab, “The Most Dangerous Computer Viruses in History”, Product USP-Unique Selling Point, <> (December 9, 2009),
6A. Martin del Rey, “A Computer Virus Spread Model Based on Cellular Automata on Graphs,” Distributed Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Bioinformatics, Soft Computing, and Ambient Assisted Living, (Salamanca Spain, 2009), 505.

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