There was a new study that was released today, which was commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by IDC, that claims businesses and consumers are losing billions of dollars each year fighting software piracy and malware online.
 
Pirating music, video, software or games has never been easier and even although consumers risk the chance of infecting their computers with malware, the practice has never been more popular. Microsoft concluded that the chances of infection were, “one in three for consumers and three in 10 for businesses”. Microsoft went on to sat that, “consumers will spend 1.5 billion hours and $22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware”. Outside of the consumer realm, “global enterprises will spend $114 billion to deal with the impact of a malware-induced cyberattack”. In a statement sent to the press, Microsoft talks about how software piracy is spreading throughout the world.
 
The global study analyzed 270 websites and peer-to-peer networks, 108 software downloads, and 155 CDs or DVDs, and it interviewed 2,077 consumers and 258 IT managers or chief information officers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Researchers found that of counterfeit software that does not come with the computer, 45 percent comes from the Internet, and 78 percent of this software downloaded from websites or peer-to-peer networks included some type of spyware, while 36 percent contained Trojans and adware.
 
“The cybercrime reality is that counterfeiters are tampering with the software code and lacing it with malware,” said David Finn , associate general counsel in the 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.”
 
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,” said 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.”
 
The following are among the highlights from the consumer survey:

  • Sixty-four percent of the people respondents knew who had used counterfeit software experienced security issues.
  • Forty-five percent of the time, counterfeit software slowed their PCs, and the software had to be uninstalled.
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss.
  • Twenty-nine percent were most concerned with identity theft.

The report also investigated “end-user software installations made on corporate computers”, which has become a growing threat over the past few years.  Microsoft stated, “although 38 percent of IT managers acknowledge that it happens, 57 percent of workers admit they install personal software onto employer-owned computers”. You can learn more about how to make your PC safer by visiting Microsoft’s official security page. Once there you can check your machine for known malware and the site offers tools to remove the infection.
 
source: idp, microsoft