Viruses and Spyware: Expected Costs

The previous post discussed the amount of money you ought to be willing to pay per year to avoid getting phished. By using statistics about the average cost of phishing and the probability of experiencing it, it was possible to come up with a meaningful figure. Given the right statistics, this type of analysis is possible for any type of risk.

What Should You Pay to Avoid Viruses and Spyware?

In Consumer Reports’ 2008 State of the Net summary, the odds of contracting a serious computer virus problems are given to be 1 in 7, the yearly costs $2.9 billion. The odds of a serious spyware problem are 1 in 14, with a yearly cost of $3.6 billion. (Note that these figures are for both businesses and consumers.)

From these statistics, it is possible to calculate the amount that the typical person ought to be willing to pay, yearly, in the form of insurance or a preventative product or service, to avoid the consequences of viruses and spyware.

If 1 in 7 computer users had major virus problems, it means that 26 million people suffered expenses of about $110 each. If 1 in 14 computer users had a major spyware problem, it means that about 13 million people took a hit of $275.

Using these numbers and a formula for expected costs (expected cost = average cost per incident multiplied by probability of incidence) we can conclude that the expected yearly loss per person from virus and spyware threats totals $35. Put another way, each of us should be willing to spend up to $35 per year on insurance, services, or products that would shield us from the costs of viruses and spyware.

The Value of Anti-Virus Software

Of course, my calculations could be wrong. But it’s interesting to note that McAfee and Symantec, two of the most popular anti-virus and anti-spyware providers, price their mainstay products at $40, $5 more than our calculation says is reasonable.

Is that extra $5 per year for peace of mind or is it down to overpricing? Or maybe the cost figures that Consumer Reports noted do not include the psychological cost of annoyance and time spent getting rid of viruses and spyware, which could bring the total cost per person higher than what was reported. I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the millions of consumers who indicate, by their willingness to pay, that a $40 anti-virus solution is worth it to them, but I could be off the mark.


  1. Comment by Doug Woodall — 25 August 2008 @ 7:15 am

    Your article hits the mark, users are willing to pay to stay safe.
    However, it shouldnt be so, the Internet was meant for all, and most casual users dont bother to insure their online safety until its too late.
    And that $11 extra from McAfee and Symantec, its for when youre using their products and you become infected anyway.

  2. Comment by Dave — 29 August 2008 @ 9:15 am

    While I agree that the cost can be justified, it is yet another forced expense in an already over-budget world.

  3. Comment by jessnoe — 7 November 2009 @ 10:07 pm

    Good day to You..
    My computer is having a problem. It was started when i downloaded a file yesterday..
    Occassionaly when i try to open the mozilla firefox and the other icon on the windows.

    the result was this
    At night when i turn to open my computer this was the result

    =<Java Virtual machine launcher-Invalid or corrupt jarfile C:\Progaram files\ahead\lib\NMBg monitor.exe

    =<Java virtual machine launcher-Invalid or currupt C:\windows\systems32\ctfmon.exe

    =<Java virtual machine launcher-Invalid or currupt C:\yahoo.\Messenger\yahoo messenger.exe

    =<Java virtual machine launcher-Invalid or currupt C:\program files\USB Disk Security\USB Guard exe.

    =<Java virtual machine launcher-Invalid or currupt C:Program\ALWILS-I\Avast4\ash Disp.exe.

    =<Java virtual machine launcher-Invalid or currupt C:\program files\ Messenger\msmsgs.exe.

    As i understand about it,all the program and the system was corrupted.

    What does it mean?Thus it a virus?What should i do to get it back?Is there any solution aside for repormatting my computer?

    Please send me a reply……

    -When god make you-

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