Malicious computer misuse such as hacking and virus writing will cost the world economy an astounding $1.6 (£1.05) trillion this year, according to a study released Monday.
The study -- commissioned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and carried out by Information Week Research -- canvassed 4,900 IT professionals in 30 different countries to ascertain how much computer crime is costing the global economy.
Those involved believe the research breaks new ground. "These estimates are based on the broadest sampling ever achieved in the security industry," says Rusty Weston, editor of Information Week Research.
"The findings indicate that viruses are far more disruptive to organisations than most people realise. Lost productivity will undoubtedly force many IT organisations to reassess their network defences and security policies."
Incidents such as February's distributed denial of service attacks and May's Love bug worm have increased awareness of the threat of computer crime and misuse. It is estimated that the Love bug, considered to be the most destructive worm ever released, could have cost businesses up to £8bn.
Another researcher behind the report, John Di Stefano of Reality Research & Consulting, is confident the findings are realistic. "These are companies with infrastructures of IT professionals who, because of the dollar impact, are increasingly tracking the problem and can provide an accurate assessment of the scope of the issue," he says.
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