Get a Mac: Viruses, spyware cost U.S. consumers $7.8 billion over last two years

“Consumers paid as much $7.8 billion over two years to repair or replace computers that got infected with viruses and spyware, a Consumer Reports survey found,” Kim Hart reports for The Washington Post.

Hart reports, “That figure was down from a similar survey a year ago. Still, it suggests that people are paying large sums to cope with the flood of malicious viruses and other programs that can slow computers or render them inoperable. ‘There is a very high national cost to this,’ said Jeff Fox, technology editor of the consumer magazine. ‘People think they’re invincible, even when this kind of money is involved.'”

“Viruses are the most expensive, with people paying $5.2 billion in 2004 and 2005 to repair or replace afflicted machines, the survey found,” Hart reports. “Infections of spyware, a type of software that can track computer users’ habits or collect sensitive information about them, declined slightly in the past six months, the survey found. But such infections caused almost 1 million U.S. households to replace their computers, the survey found.”

Hart reports, “The Consumer Reports survey of 2,000 households found that 20 percent of respondents didn’t have antivirus software and that 35 percent didn’t use spyware-blocking software. As the Internet gains more users, it’s important to educate them on the security risks, Cole said. The survey results are to be published in the September issue of Consumer Reports.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If the world was 100% Mac for the last two years, the cost would have been $0 due to viruses and spyware. Good thing you saved $29.67 per laptop by going with Dell, right, Mr. IT Guy? In reality, the Windows mess is really much worse than Consumer Reports’ mere $7.8 billion over the last two years figure. According to the FBI, “Viruses, spyware, other computer-related crimes cost U.S. businesses $67.2 billion per year.”

It’s really sad that so many people have to be wary about opening email, visiting websites, chatting with presumed “buddies,” or downloading music, photos, movies or other files over the Internet. No one should have to zealously guard their computers against spyware, viruses, trojan horses, or various other types of malware. Or run a bewildering assortment of (quickly obsolete) virus-protection apps. And no one should have to run a computer to a nearby computer store, so it can be “cleaned” on a routine basis. Do you know why people put up with that? If their cars didn’t drive where they wanted to go; their TVs didn’t play what they wanted to watch; or their phones didn’t connect to the party they called, how long would they keep using them?

Apple provides more info online about Mac’s lack of viruses here.

By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, there were 850 new threats detected against Windows. Zero for Mac. While no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack, Mac OS X has helped the Mac keep its clean bill of health with a superior UNIX foundation and security features that go above and beyond the norm for PCs. When you get a Mac, only your enthusiasm is contagious. – Apple’s “114,000 viruses? Not on a Mac.” webpage.

By the way, before anyone gets any bright ideas: “Security via Obscurity” is a myth. Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses. For over five years and counting. No Mac OS X users affected outside of a lab with old, non-updated Mac OS versions that they intentionally infected.

The idea that Windows’ morass of security woes exists because more people use Windows and that Macs have no security problems because less people use Macs, is simply not true. Mac OS X is not more secure than Windows because less people use OS X, making it less of a target. By design, Mac OS X is simply more secure than Windows. Period. For reference and reasons why Mac OS X is more secure than Windows, read The New York Times’ David Pogue’s mea culpa on the subject of the “Mac Security Via Obscurity” myth here.

Macs account for roughly 10% of the world’s personal computer users — (some say as much as 16%) — so the first half of the myth doesn’t even stand up to scrutiny. Macs aren’t “obscure” at all. Therefore, the Apple Mac platform’s ironclad security simply cannot logically be attributed to obscurity.

There are zero-percent (0%) of viruses for the Mac OS X platform that should, logically, have some 10-16% of the world’s viruses if platforms’ install bases dictate the numbers of viruses. The fact that Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses totally discounts “security via obscurity.” There should be at least some Mac OS X viruses. There are none. The reason for this fact is not attributable solely to “obscurity,” it’s attributable to superior security design.

Still not convinced? Try this one on for size: according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday at WWDC, there are “19 million Mac OS X users” in the world and there are still zero (0) viruses. According to CNET, the Windows Vista Beta was released “to about 10,000 testers” at the time the first Windows Vista virus arrived. So much for the security via obscurity myth.

Related articles:
Microsoft’s oft-delayed, much-pared-down Windows Vista hacked at Black Hat – August 07, 2006
Ballmer analyzes Microsoft’s One Big Mistake, Vista… er, ‘One Big’ Vista Mistake – August 02, 2006
Symantec details more security holes in Microsoft’s Windows Vista – July 26, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 2006
Sophos Security: Dump Windows, Get a Mac – July 05, 2006
What Microsoft has chopped from Windows Vista, and when – June 27, 2006
Security company Sophos: Apple Mac the best route for security for the masses – December 06, 2005

Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006
Apple Macs and viruses: Fact vs. FUD – May 26, 2006
‘Mac security’ garbage reports continue to proliferate – May 10, 2006
ZDNet: Reduce OS X security threats – ignore security software – May 05, 2006
Unix expert: Mac OS X much more secure than Windows; recent Mac OS X security stories are media hype – May 03, 2006
Macs and viruses: the true story – May 02, 2006
Anti-Mac FUD machine shifts into overdrive – May 01, 2006
FUD Alert: Viruses don’t catch up to the Mac – May 01, 2006
BusinessWeek: Apple should hire security czar to combat uninformed media FUD – March 09, 2006
Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous – March 06, 2006
Mafiasoft: Microsoft to charge $50 per year for security service to protect Windows – February 07, 2006
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005

26 Comments

  1. I still love that commercial…

    And I think the PC guy is kinda cute, in a nerdy sort of way…maybe I just think I’m the one to “convert” him… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    MW=Last!!!

  2. Well this just can’t be true, because there was a Windell fan-boy posting here a few weeks ago who quite clearly said that Windows users had the virus problems licked and anyone with a modicum of intelligence could do the same.

    Presumably, if this story was true, that means that a) he’s a know-nothing bozo and b) that many Windows users – in the USA at least – have the brains of a McDonald’s Salad.

    Also, surely domestic Windows users in the US wouldn’t be so stupid as to allow 26 million spyware attacks and 47 million virus attacks whilst spending $7.8 billion, a figure which averages out to around $26 for every man, woman and child in the US.

    And who are the 2.4 million domestic computer users who connect to the Net through broadband, but don’t use a firewall?

    Seriously, you don’t have to be stupid to choose Windows – but it certainly seems to help.

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