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March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 10 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
US$22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware, while global enterprises will spend
US$114 billion to deal with the impact of a malware-induced cyberattack.
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
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."
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.
Embedding counterfeit software with dangerous malware is a new method for criminals to prey on computer users who are unaware of the potential danger.