Think you know what software sits on your employees’ computers? A new study by Microsoft and IDC reports 57% of workers are installing unauthorized software on company-owned computers, just 30% of which is problem-free. Even though 65% of IT managers agree installing counterfeit software poses a security risk, only 38% believe it’s going on.
Researchers interviewed consumers and managers from 10 countries and analyzed 270 websites and peer-to-peer networks (P2P), 108 software downloads and 155 CDs or DVDs. The results suggest the risk of malware or infection from unauthorized software is 1 in 3 for consumers and 1 in 10 for businesses. Cost savings may be a common motivator for downloading counterfeit materials, but the study says businesses will spend $114 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware-induced cyber-attacks.
Of the software not included with a computer at the point of purchase, 45% is downloaded from various internet sources. The study reports that more than three quarters (78%) of this software is infected with some type of spyware and 36% contains Trojans and adware. As a result, nearly two thirds (64%) of people using counterfeit software experience security issues and close to half experience slower performance by their PCs. Data loss was ranked by 48% of respondents as their biggest concern when using counterfeit software and 29% were most concerned with identify theft.
“Cybercriminals are tampering with software code and lacing counterfeit copies with malware, putting Canadian businesses and consumers at risk,” says Chris Tortorice, corporate counsel, anti-piracy at Microsoft Canada. “While buyers should be demanding genuine software when they purchase a computer, it is important for industry and government to continue to work together and look for new ways to protect people and businesses.”
Counterfeit products open computers to security breaches that can result in the loss, damage or misuse of data, says Scott Smith, director, intellectual property and innovation policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Intellectual Property Council. “Not only does counterfeit software harm users, but it also negatively impacts the bottom line of legitimate retailers in Canada,” he explains.
More information about the IDC study is available at the Microsoft Play It Safe website.