Manchester City Council pays $2.4m in Conficker clean up costs

How severe can the impact of the Conficker worm be on a single city council that has apparently not implemented basic security solutions in place?Pretty severe according to a recently released a report entitled "Service interruption resulting from ICT disruption in February 2009" which details the financial costs of a Conficker incident affecting Manchester City Council's network - 1.

How severe can the impact of the Conficker worm be on a single city council that has apparently not implemented basic security solutions in place?

Pretty severe according to a recently released a report entitled "Service interruption resulting from ICT disruption in February 2009" which details the financial costs of a Conficker incident affecting Manchester City Council's network - 1.5 million pounds in clean up costs and lost revenue from the downtime.

Where did all the money go, and can this incident cost be used as an average to draw conclusions from in the long term in respect to assessing Conficker's financial impact on affected networks? Let's find out.

The infection obviously caught them off guard, since no antivirus, IPs, patch management solutions or general security awareness were in place. The results came shortly - hundreds of unprocessed bus lane fines due to service disruption, post-infection network-wide USB device ban, installation of antivirus software and patch management solutions, and a thousand Conficker infected laptops accumulating such a hefty clean up bill.

According to the audit report, 600k pounds went for consulting fees support and expertise and another 600k for the purchase of Wyse terminals to replace the PCs which have been affected. The report always tries to emphasize that the purchase of the Wyse terminals has been budgeted long before the Conficker infection took place, which I doubt based on single sentence within the incident response document attempting to explain how Conficker attacks - "The Conficker virus attacks ICT systems by what is known as a “denial of service attack”.

In April, the Cyber Secure Institute estimated that the economic cost of Conficker is as high as $9.1 billion based on the average cost for related malware incidents analyzed in their previous studies. The high cost was once again accumulated by considering the purchase of counter-measure software, a cost which is also pretty evident in Manchester City Council's case, once again indicating a blurred perception of pre-malware infection costs and post-malware infection costs where no security solutions are active in the fist place, naturally increasing the size of the bill.

The 1.5m pounds cost incurred by Manchester's City Council may not be the real Conficker cost, but the cost for the lack of basic security awareness which would have prevented the infection or mitigated its impact. A matter of interpretation or not, the money is gone, and it's money gone in times when Conficker remains in stand-by mode.