Why It’s Bad to Use Pirated Software, Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft-commissioned study shows that pirated software exposes users’ data

It’s no surprise that Microsoft continues the fight against software piracy given the fact that Windows and Office are two of the most affected products, but here’s a new study commissioned by the Redmond-based technology giant that brings some important findings.

Conducted by IDC, the research demonstrates that customers who use pirated software spend no less than 1.5 billion hours and $22 billion (€16.9 billion) to repair problems caused by malware, usually distributed through counterfeited apps.

The study was conducted worldwide and involved a total of 270 websites and peer-to-peer networks, 108 software downloads, 155 software discs, 2,077 users and 258 IT managers in various countries around the world.

In 45 percent of the cases, the pirated apps were downloaded from the Internet, while in 78 percent of the scenarios, peer-to-peer networks infected by spyware distributed the unlicensed apps.

“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 study has also showed that pirated apps can put users’ data at risk, as 64 percent of those who deployed unlicensed apps agreed they experienced security issues. The computer was slowed down in 45 percent of the reports, while 48 percent of the respondents said they were afraid of data loss.

As usual, Microsoft continues the fight against software pirates, so it is not only trying to convince users that unlicensed apps could compromise their data, but it’s also hunting down those who deliver illegal products across the world.

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