Consequences & Risks of using Pirated & Counterfeit Software

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.

counterfeit software

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.

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Microsoft Student Partner | Computer Science graduate | Loves flirting with technology | Author at The Geeks Club | Lives on the web at @asrartheone


  1. Edward Gudz

    Myself, already knowing what what written above I have to say………..

    If you have the cash to lay out for a pirated copy of software than why not buy the real thing? THAT right there tells me that you are a cheap a$$ and that you deserve what you get. EVERYONE in this world knows that downloading or purchasing pirated software comes with some pretty big risks but if your going to purchase pirated software off some one off the street having no idea whether it works or not that is a pretty big durfwad move because now you have not only got software that has messed up your machine or has not installed at all but your cash is gone too! I bet if you went back to that corner spot where you bought this software from it is no longer there. AT LEAST if you downloaded it, you paid nothing for it and if you backed up everthing correctly all it would take is a system restore to get everything back to where it was.

    I understand there are times where you just don’t have the cash and just want to try the full blown version of something, but if you have the money then just buy it, you’ll get tech support and a WHOLE LOT less headaches not to talk about malware and viruses.

  2. Xi

    When taking about privacy intrusion with pirated s/w, there is a Big hit back for MS: MS itself leaks/gives out info to third-party[eg:Skype-old leaked news] and fb selling profile info to cos[incl new fb home app], etc! And many s/w providers itself gathers more and more info from our genuine s/w, why pirated s/w are linked with privacy intrusion? We are tracked/hacked even with Genuine s/w and its version issues[bugs]! If genuine products are more and more cheaper with all features[not lite/low/skipped features], the more people will buy! First give a lesson to s/w providers on reducing costs and stop tracking then spread the reasons to buy Genuine s/w to others!

  3. DarkwarrioR

    Which idiot would PAY to not own software legally, when you can get same thing on internet for free, which is also more reliable if you know where to download it from?

  4. Poor

    That’s all and good if you live in America, but in third world countries with poor purchasing power, the OS is VERY COSTLY. Here, it’s not about being a cheap ass but more on actually being poor. If I could afford it without having to sacrifice meals for days, I would.

  5. Afshan Akely

    I have used all kinds of OS, Beside of Microsoft Provides many kinds of Operating systems , But Windows 7 is perfect OS for hd gaming with its all versions like; Starter, Home premium, Professional and Ultimate,
    Which has been used both for home as well as business purpose.I want to suggest for you to use only a full version of any OS to avoid lost of your backup files and precious time. Last time, I also need a license
    for Windows 8.1 pro, Which installed at my cousin’s PC, So I searched at Google to find a free license, but all in vain.
    Then one of my friend recommend me to buy it from: ODosta Store
    I bought it, Now I have Genuine, Which is working well.Cheers!

  6. Kartik Sawant

    Will the user get punished or fined if he uses a pirated copy. one of my friend is using. Shhhhhhh

  7. Tech hAcKeRr

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HELP ME!!!!. I am using a microsoft windows 7 64 bits(pIrAtEd). My windows was working and none of the above issues took place. BUT after some weeks when I checked my computer device for updates, it said ‘The windows update service is not running. You need to restart the computer.’ I tried almost all fixes but nithing worked. If anyone has a Best solution so please post me(I don’t want to use Windows DVD to reinstall windows).

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