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What damage can viruses cause?

Viruses can cause immense damage. The I Love You virus, for example, caused an estimated $10 billion (US) worth of economic damages and initiated a Denial-of-Service attack against the White House web site in the year 2000. Individuals infected with the virus found much of their personal data, music and multimedia files overwritten with copies of the virus.

The Mydoom worm also had a major impact. The speed of the entire global Internet was slowed substantially when Mydoom was at the peak of its replicating power. It is estimated that on February 8, 2004, 11% of all emails sent were generated by computers infected with Mydoom. Computers infected with this virus also had portions of their hard drives erased.

For an example of the replicating power of a destructive virus, we need look no further than the Slammer worm, which was released on January 25, 2003. Within 10 minutes of its release, 75,000 computers were infected.

Both individual computers and network systems can be compromised by viruses. In 2005, a Seattle hospital saw its entire computer system shut down including intensive care by two young programmers using backdoors to install unwanted software. The Kama Sutra virus has threatened millions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat files, just as the SirCam and Klez viruses have done before.

Whether you are an individual with a single computer connected to the Internet or a corporation operating a complex network, the risks of infection and data destruction by one of the thousands of viruses in circulation is very real.

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