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Software piracy costs businesses billions in time and money

13 Mar 2013

Although some computer users may actively seek pirated software in hopes of saving money, the chances of infection by unexpected malware is three in 10 for businesses.

As a result of these infections, research shows global enterprises will spend US$114 billion to deal with the impact of a malware-induced cyberattack.

The global study, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by IDC, analysed 270 websites and peer-to-peer networks, 108 software downloads, 155 CDs or DVDs, while interviewing 258 IT managers or chief information officers across the world.

Researchers found that of counterfeit software that does not come with the computer, 45% comes from the Internet, and 78% of this software downloaded from websites or peer-to-peer networks included some type of spyware, while 36% contained Trojans and adware.

“The cybercrime reality is that counterfeiters are tampering with the software code and lacing it with malware,” says David Finn, associate general counsel, Microsoft Cybercrime Center.

“Some of this malware records a person’s every keystroke - allowing cybercriminals to steal a victim’s personal and financial information - or remotely switches on an infected computer’s microphone and video camera, giving cybercriminals eyes and ears in boardrooms and living rooms.

"The best way to secure yourself and your property from these malware threats when you buy a computer is to demand genuine software.”

Key findings includes:

• 64% of the people respondents knew who had used counterfeit software experienced security issues.

• 45% of the time, counterfeit software slowed their PCs, and the software had to be uninstalled.

• 48% of respondents noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss.

• 29% were most concerned with identity theft.

The IDC study, titled “The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software,” was released today as part of Microsoft’s “Play It Safe” campaign, a global initiative to bring awareness to issues related to software piracy.

“Our research is unequivocal: Inherent dangers lurk for consumers and businesses that take a chance on counterfeit software,” says John Gantz, chief researcher at IDC.

“Some people choose counterfeit to save money, but this ‘ride-along’ malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users alike.”

Does your company use counterfeit software? Tell us your experiences below