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Pirated software a significant security threat: Microsoft

Madura McCormack | Dec. 20, 2012
Preliminary testing unveils majority of illegal software contains a vast variety of malware and viruses

Microsoft Southeast Asia today revealed the results of a preliminary study that delved into the risks posed by the purchase and use of counterfeit software.

Sixty-three percent of the 118 samples of Windows and other software purchased from resellers in eight Southeast Asian countries were found to contain high-risk malware infections and viruses.

"Using a PC with counterfeit software is like moving into a high-crime neighbourhood and leaving your doors open-it's incredibly risky," said Zahri Hj. Yunos, acting chief executive officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia.

How risky? The study sample revealed 2000 instances of malware and viruses ranging from hijackers, droppers, bots, crackers, password stealers, Trojans and backdoors.

"This study clearly shows that using counterfeit software is a dangerous proposition," said Jeff Bullwinkel, Microsoft's director of Legal and Corporate Affairs for Asia Pacific and Japan.

The research also showed that 77 percent of the computers have Windows Update disabled or re-routed to a third party by the counterfeit software.

"Pirated software is a breeding ground for cyber crime, and the cost of using it is potentially much higher than the price of buying genuine in the first place," Bullwinkel added.

The Southeast Asian findings comes after a similar Microsoft study conducted in China revealed that 91 percent of the 169 PCs purchased from resellers in the country had pirated Windows software.

Microsoft plans to expand the research and publish the full results and analysis by Q1 2013.

 

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