Software Piracy Could Cost Asia-Pacific Businesses US$129B in 2013

The cost of dealing with the impact of malware-induced cyber-attacks for enterprises is predicted to be US$114 billion globally in 2013, while in Asia Pacific, the study forecasts spending will reach US$39 billion. The regional number increases to a staggering US$129 billion if the cost of data loss is taken into consideration.


These are the findings of a new global study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by IDC on the effects of malware found in pirated software.


Consumers also share the burden and cost, with the IDC study showing that as a result of these infections consumers worldwide will spend 1.5 billion hours and US$22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware.


Researchers found that of the counterfeit software that does not come with the computer, 45 percent is downloaded from the Internet. Of this, 78 percent is downloaded from websites or P2P networks and includes 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 Jeff Bullwinkel, director of legal and corporate affairs for Asia Pacific and Japan at Microsoft. “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 highlights that 62 percent of respondents knew someone who had used counterfeit software and experienced security issues. The study also finds that 55 percent of the time, counterfeit software slowed their PCs, and the software had to be uninstalled. Half of respondents (50 percent) noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss, and 30 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.


A separate study conducted by Microsoft in Southeast Asia in February 2013 examined name-brand PCs with pirated software installed and counterfeit software DVDs, uncovering an average malware infection rate of 69 percent.


In that study, Microsoft’s testing of 282 computers and DVDs from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam revealed 5,601 instances and 1,131 unique strains of malware and virus infections. It further revealed pirated copies of Windows embedded with malware spread across numerous well-known PC brands, including: Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Microsoft believes that neither the counterfeit images nor the malware originated from—or were installed by—the individual PC manufacturers. Rather, the computers were likely shipped with non-Windows operating systems, which were later replaced by individuals in the downstream supply chain or retail channel who deal in the illegal duplication and distribution of pirated software.


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