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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Computer Economics, Inc.

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 30 May 2000

COMPUTER ECONOMICS, INC. stopped declaring virus damage estimates as of three weeks ago. However, I predict their pattern behavior will re-emerge[1] before Bobby Knight's does.

Computer Economics, Inc. didn't make an absurdly accurate guess for NewLove or KillerRésumé. A recent "damage control" press release instead just touted their abacus skills. I take full credit for this turn of events.

The firm rose to great heights in security circles when they slapped a $7.6 billion price tag on viruses worldwide for the first half of 1999. They followed up in January with a $12.1 billion price tag for total virus damage throughout 1999. Computer Economics then declared $2.61 billion for ILoveYou the day after it struck, with later updates of $4.7 billion and $6.7 billion in damages.

I criticized antivirus vendors last month, and the media this month, for citing Computer Economics' absurdly accurate guesstimates. "The very people who didn't bother to collect virus data for the first 14 years somehow came up with intricate metrics and empirical evidence just a few hours after the [ILoveYou] virus made its debut," I observed. "From this, Computer Economics calculated damages with a worldwide accuracy of ±$10 million."

Computer Economics paid Business Wire to distribute yet another press release when NewLove surfaced. They even titled it "Computer Viruses: The Anatomy of Damage Calculations." However, the firm didn't actually make a guess this time. They instead issued a "spin control" press release touting their abacus skills. Computer Economics still urges reporters to call "for the latest financial assessment," yet three weeks passed with no updated figures.

Mark my words: Computer Economics will issue another damage estimate. Few can resist the aphrodisiac of free publicity.

No one else in the security world declared a guesstimate, either. I take full credit for this turn of events — and I get extra credit for the spin control press release.

I doubt Computer Economics can hold out much longer, though. Few can resist the aphrodisiac of free publicity. Mark my words: they will declare another virus damage figure, and I predict it'll debut no later than tomorrow morning.[1]

I'll need to keep on my toes with Computer Economics. They keep score, you know.