Although some computer users may actively seek pirated software in hopes of saving money, the chances of infection by unexpected malware are one in three for consumers and three in 10 for businesses, the study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by IDC has revealed.
The global study analysed 270 websites and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, 108 software downloads, and 155 CDs or DVDs, and interviewed 2,077 consumers and 258 IT managers or chief information officers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Researchers found that of counterfeit software that does not come with the computer, 45 per cent comes from the Internet, and 78 per cent of this software downloaded from websites or P2P networks included some type of spyware. 36 per cent contained Trojans and adware.
"In Lebanon, the rate of pirated software stands at 71 per cent, compared to 50 per cent in Qatar and 42 per cent worldwide, according to the latest BSA Global Piracy study," said Valerie Bassil, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Lebanon.
"Consumers risk money, time and the loss of personal data when they use pirated software, while for businesses the losses can be immeasurable; trade secrets, business, critical data and corporate reputations are all on the line," Bassil said.
The IDC study – The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software – was released yesterday as part of Play It Safe campaign, Microsoft's global initiative to bring awareness to issues related to software piracy.
The IDC white paper also explored the high level of end-user software installations made on corporate computers, exposing another method for the introduction of unsecured software into the workplace ecosystem.
Although 38 per cent of IT managers acknowledge that it happens, 57 per cent of workers admit they install personal software onto employer-owned computers.
Respondents told IDC that only 30 per cent of the software they installed on their work computers was problem-free.
Sixty five per cent 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.