Everybody who is about to disagree with my headline might say that malware is free as it just stops by on your computer if it got some security holes due to missing patches or bad configuration. I do not disagree with that as there were no costs for the programmer, no licensing fees – a perfect example of freeware. But on the other hand the damage done by the malware itself is what it makes that expensive.
On the internet you will find many case studies among those from Ontrack or the Ponemon Institute estimating the value of your data. And it is quite amazing that they say that 1 MB of data is worth about 10000 USD and it would take a long time to reconstruct – if possible. But even if the virus does not harm your files, it is causing costs.
From my own experience it can take some hours to really get rid of a virus and repair the broken files. Sure, sometimes it is even better to wipe the hard disk and do a fresh install. Fact is, that the average IT hour costs about 150 USD which leads us to the huge sum of 750 USD for a cleanup session without huge efforts of data rescue.
Looking at those numbers you might understand that 200 USD for a backup- and antivirus solution are not expensive at all.