The market for pirated software is huge, and consumers easily fall for the trap to get ‘real’ software products at dirt cheap price which helps them do the job. But in the process of adopting pirated software, consumers are at the risk of privacy intrusion, loss of sensitive data, substantial financial losses and costs and a big waste of time trying to fix system problems.
In order to drive home this point, Microsoft Australia did a small experiment where it went out to the local markets in Melbourne to purchase counterfeit Windows and Office software from four different sellers. These pirated disks were then put to the test, the results of which were worrying.
Read: Microsoft Compliance Program.
Risks of using Pirated Software
Five out of the six Microsoft Office disks were infected with malware while six out of the twelve Windows disks were duds (could not be installed and run). Of the other six disks which could be run and tested successfully, the following was observed:
- Two were infected with malware;
- All the six copies had Windows Update disabled;
- All the six copies had the Windows Firewall rules changed.
Of the total of the twelve counterfeit software copies that could be installed successfully (six Office and six Windows) and tested, the following was affirmed:
- Seven copies (58%) were infected with malware
- A total of 20 instances of six different types of malware code found.
This means serious trouble for users who unsuspectingly work on such counterfeit Microsoft software especially while dealing with confidential information like financial statements, sensitive passwords and personal media items et al.
These findings were backed up by a 2013 IDC study on The Dangers of Counterfeit Software, commissioned by Microsoft, which found that:
- One in three consumer’s PCs with counterfeit software will be infected with malware in 2013;
- Consumers globally will waste US$22 billion and 1.5 billion hours dealing with the issues, such as recovering data, and dealing with identity theft as a result;
- 26% of consumers who installed counterfeit software had their PC infected with a virus;
- 78% of counterfeit software programs downloaded from pirate internet sites or P2P networks installed tracking cookies or spyware.
You can read more about the study here.
Though Microsoft Australia is considering enforcement action against these four sellers who sold the counterfeit disks, the punch line it wants to deliver is:
Counterfeit pirated software might be cheaper, or even free, but it’s not worth the risk to use it!
Go here to learn how to find out if any Microsoft Windows Software is Genuine and to report Counterfeit software.