Enterprises worldwide are expected to spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with issues caused by malware deliberately loaded onto pirated software according to a new joint study conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Global consumers are expected to spend $25 billion, including Middle East and African consumers who will pay $2 billion, on security threats and costly computer fixes stemming from malware on pirated software.
The study, titled “The Link Between Pirated Software and Cybersecurity Breaches,” also revealed that 60 percent of consumers surveyed say their greatest fear from infected software is the loss of data, files or personal information, followed by unauthorized Internet transactions (51 percent) and hijacking of email, social networking and bank accounts (50 percent). However, 43 percent of those same respondents do not install security updates, leaving their computers open to attack by cybercriminals.
According to the survey, governments are most worried about the loss of business trade secrets or competitive information (59 percent), unauthorized access to confidential government information (55 percent), and the impact of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure (55 percent). It is estimated that governments could lose more than $50 billion to deal with the costs associated with malware on pirated software.
The African continent accounts for only 2 percent of global GDP, yet it accounts for 10 percent of global cybercrime incidents. In Kenya, Microsoft has already partnered with the Kenya Copywrite Board to combat piracy, which according to the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study, currently sits at 83 percent across the East and Southern Africa region.
The study was released today as part of Microsoft’s “Play It Safe” campaign, a global initiative to create greater awareness of the connection between malware and piracy.
The NUS forensics analysis of 203 new PCs loaded with pirated software found that 61 percent of the PCs were pre-infected with unsafe malware, including Trojans, worms, viruses, hacktools, rootkits and adware. These PCs, purchased through resellers and PC shops in 11 markets, included more than 100 discrete threats.
“It is hugely concerning that brand new PCs are coming pre-infected with dangerous malware due to pirated software, making the users and companies readily vulnerable to security breaches,” said Professor Biplab Sikdar, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore. “The university’s forensic tests clearly indicate how cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging the unsecure supply chain of piracy to spread malware and compromise PC security in a serious way. We would only recommend usage of genuine software for online safety and cybersecurity.”
Microsoft is committed to protecting its unsuspecting consumers from downloading or purchasing non genuine software that exposes victims to malware that can lead to identity theft, loss of data and system failures.