Beware: Piracy is costing you billions

According to a new study by the IDC, consumers across the globe are spending billions of dollars fighting viruses and malware-induced cyber attacks brought on through the use of pirated software – South Africans included.

The study, commissioned by Microsoft, found that the chances of infection by unexpected malware are one in three for consumers, and three in 10 for businesses.

As a result of these infections, consumers will spend an estimated 1.5 billion hours and $22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware – while businesses will spend around $114 billion to deal with the impact of malware-induced cyber-attacks.

“Inherent dangers lurk for consumers and businesses that take a chance on counterfeit software. Some people choose counterfeit to save money, but this ‘ride-along’ malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users alike,” the IDC said.

South Africa not exempt

Although the IDC survey did not include South Africa, an informal survey run by Microsoft SA found that close to a third of respondents had unknowingly installed pirated software on their computers in the past two years, causing them to spend time and money recovering from the impact.

“This is costing businesses time and money to fix problems relating to pirated software – time and money which could have been spent on growing small businesses, employing employees and adding to the economy,” said Mteto Nyati, managing director at Microsoft SA.

The issue goes further, the Microsoft SA lead said, as local software and computer dealers are also being impacted by pirates

Mteto Nyati
Mteto Nyati

Other SA survey highlights:

  • 64% of the people respondents knew who had used counterfeit software experienced security issues.
  • 45% of the time, counterfeit software slowed their PCs, and the software had to be uninstalled
  • 48% of respondents noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss
  • 29% were most concerned with identity theft
  • In South Africa, 82% of respondents who had installed non-genuine software had experienced security and system-related issues.
  • Over 70% of local respondents collectively highlighted the loss of data, identity theft and affected computer performance as the biggest concern.
  • Only 58% of local respondents said that they always install security updates to keep their software up to date.
  • In the past two years, over 43% of respondents reported they have knowingly or unknowingly borrowed pirated software to install while 28% downloaded it from the web or from a peer to peer computer network.

“The reality is that more and more employees are downloading software on to their computers at work – up to 40% in South Africa, according to our local survey,” Nyati said.

According to the survey, 65% of IT managers agree that user-installed software increases an organisation’s security risks. For many in the enterprise, user-installed software may be a blind spot in ensuring a secure network.

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Beware: Piracy is costing you billions