Software piracy can ‘cost billions’



RIYADH: Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.

Published — Thursday 4 April 2013

Last update 4 April 2013 5:03 am

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Pirated software can cost users a great deal of money because of possible malware infection, according to Samir Noman, president of Microsoft Saudi Arabia.
“The chances of infection by unexpected malware are one in three for consumers and three in 10 for business,” said Noman, quoting a global study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
The IDC study entitled “The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software” was released over the weekend as part of “Play Fair Day”, Microsoft's global initiative to raise awareness on software piracy.
The study said that consumers will spend a billion hours and $ 22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware while global enterprises will spend $ 114 billion to deal with the impact of malware-induced cyber attacks. The study analyzed 270 websites and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, 108 software downloads, and 155 CDs or DVDs, and 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 the counterfeit software that does not come with the computer, 45 percent comes from the Internet, 78 percent is downloaded from websites or P2P networks included some type of spyware, while 36 percent contained Trojans and adware.
“The cybercrime reality is that counterfeiters are tampering with software code and lacing it with malware,” said Noman.
He said that “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, Noman said, is to demand genuine software.
“Our research is unequivocal: Inherent dangers lurk for consumers and businesses that take a chance on counterfeit software,” said Rafeik Al-Okaily, head of the General Directorate for Copyrights at the Ministry of Culture and Information.
He added that some people choose counterfeited software to save money, but this "ride-along" malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users.
The survey also found out that 64 percent of the respondents who had used counterfeit software experienced security issues. Forty-five percent of the time, counterfeit software slowed PCs and the software had to be uninstalled.
Forty -eight percent of the respondents noted that their greatest concern was data loss and 29 percent were most concerned with identity theft.
Embedding counterfeit software with dangerous malware was a new method for criminals to prey on computer users who are unaware of the potential danger.
The survey also explored the surprising level of end-user software installations made on corporate computers, exposing another method for the introduction of unsecure software into the workplace ecosystem.
Although 38 percent of IT managers acknowledge that it happens, 57 percent of workers admit they install personal software onto employer-owned computers.
The survey noted that respondents told IDC that only 30 percent of the software they installed on their work computers was problem-free.
Sixty-five percent of IT managers agree that user-installed software increases an organization's security risks. For many in the enterprise, user-installed software may be a blind spot in ensuring a secure network.
Customers are encouraged to visit www.microsoft/security to learn about malware and ensure their machine is not infected. If malware is present, the site offers tools to remove the infection. Customers shopping for a new computer are encouraged to buy from a reputable source to ensure they are receiving genuine Microsoft software.

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