Although some computer users may actively seek pirated software in hopes of saving money, the chances of infection by unexpected malware are one in three for consumers and three in ten for businesses, according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by IDC. As a result of these infections, the research shows that consumers will spend 1.5 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 a malware-induced cyberattack.
The IDC study, titled “The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software,” was released today as part of Play it Safe Campaign, Microsoft’s global initiative to bring awareness to issues related to software piracy. Among the highlights of the consumer survey: 45% of the time counterfeit software slowed their PCs, 48% of the respondents noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss, and 29% were most concerned with identity theft.
The IDC white paper 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. What is alarming is 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.
“It is a fact that consumers and businesses that choose to install pirated software may face serious technical and security risks”, said Evie Demetriou, Anti-Piracy Manager at Microsoft Cyprus. “Consumers and businesses choose counterfeit to save money, but the reality is that the installation of genuine software in the first place is the most cost-effective solution, since the costs to follow are highly likely to over exceed the initial cost of the software licenses.”
In Cyprus, where the piracy rate is 48%, awareness campaigns are being carried out by Microsoft Cyprus both to consumers as well as to local companies, highlighting the benefits of using legal software and the risks of unlicensed software. Among these efforts, Microsoft Cyprus is encouraging local companies to implement correct Software Asset Management (SAM) processes in their organization. SAM can help any organization control costs and business risks and optimize existing investments. Also, mystery shopper campaigns are carried out towards the resellers of PCs and software across Cyprus, in order to identify dishonest partners, and protect the ones that play fair, while at the same time to ensure that the consumers will not be duped.
“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” said David Finn, associate general counsel in the Microsoft Cybercrime Center.
Customers are encouraged to visit www.microsoft.com/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.
More information about the IDC study is available at the Microsoft Play it Safe Campaign website, http://www.play-it-safe.net/ and Newsroom, http://www.microsoft.com/news/ipcrimes.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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