4.1. Financial Effects of Malicious Programs
Although estimates vary widely, it is a safe bet that billions of dollars worth of damage have been done over the two decades since malicious code hit the big time. While some of this harm has been due to destruction of data and even damage to hardware, the bulk of the loss is likely lost time.
Spending time recovering from a virus steals opportunity in a few ways:
Putting an actual dollar value on the loss due to viruses requires a lot of guesswork. This is because one affected machine may be used mainly for trivial pursuits and can be easily repaired by simply reloading the machine with fresh copies of applications and any available data, while another may contain the details of an elaborate business deal, your contact book, your masters' thesis, or digital pictures of your loved ones, which must be carefully located, scanned for infections, and copied onto the machine after replacing or repairing any infected files.
Thus the hard number of actual dollar losses due to malware activity is obscured by emotional losses. Just because the actual amount of damage is fuzzy, however, does not degrade the importance of malicious software.