Companies working to minimize expenses in a sluggish economy often refrain from investing sufficiently in network safeguards. That strategy, however, could result in financial disasters. The global economic impact on virus attacks to information systems was $17.1 billion in 2000, up from $12.1 billion in 1999, reports Computer Economics Inc., a Carlsbad, Calif.-based information technology research firm. The figures include the cost to clean viruses from networks, servers and client systems, restore lost or damaged files and the lost productivity of workers caused by outages and downtime. “Implementing security technologies will increase a company’s overhead and slow down productivity,” said Daniel Webster, a consultant with DWEBster Inc., a Burnsville, Minn.-based IT consulting firm. “But it may allow you to still have production.” Webster spoke on security issues at the Comdex Chicago 2002 conference on Thursday. While no safeguard can completely protect a system from perpetrators, underestimating the importance of security tools could result in massive financial losses to enterprises. “The best you can ever achieve is 80% protection,” Webster noted. “There are people out there that can always get into your system if they want to.”

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