An astonishing Microsoft study points towards the possibility that almost 33% percent of PC/laptop/tablet users have software that is counterfeit. Whether this counterfeit software is intentionally or unwittingly purchased, the study places the cost of damages by the malware industry at a sizeable chunk of $114 billion. The new whitepaper study that Microsoft commissioned to the IDC is called, ‘The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software: How Pirated Software Can Compromise the Cyber Security of Consumers, Enterprises, and Nations … and the Resultant Costs in Time and Money’ and reveals some surprising data once you get a chance to finish reading the title and take a peek inside.

Your Software May be Fake, Microsoft Says

The white paper study revealed some astonishing data particularly regarding the fact that a good amount of the counterfeit software is both faulty and rigged with malware or some other spyware. Often time, consumers are sold counterfeit products as the original products of Microsoft or some other trusted brand. That’s like if you went to pick out a black Labrador puppy. You paid a good amount of money for the cute little bugger and because you can see that it’s a puppy from a good breed. When you bring it home and give it a bath, the black color starts to come off. Turns out the puppy was neither black nor a Labrador.

Although that example is a little more heartbreaking than the actual situation, the counterfeit software can also break your heart by adding you among the statistically reported people who suffer damages from their infected software. The IDC report stated the cost of such damages at a $114 billion USD. Taking an in-depth look at the damages, the report estimated the amount of time spent in dealing with such malware threats amounting to around 1.5 billion hours per year.

The whitepaper study showed that with piracy becoming so rampant, consumers are no longer able to differentiate with ease which products are counterfeit and which are original. Surprisingly, many consumers and companies have been reported as finding the counterfeit or pirated software pre-installed in the purchased computers. People claiming this happens are among a disturbingly high percentage. However, this does not mean that software downloaded free of cost from websites is safe from malware.

Many of these websites are embedded with spyware and other viruses which are downloaded every time a user downloads some software from that website. One cause for alarm is owing to the fact that the study was based on data gathered from 10 countries with the help of a survey with responses received from 1,104 individuals, 973 business establishments, 268 individuals from the Chief Information Office (CIO) and the field of Information technology (IT).

The study was conducted as a follow-up of some similar research conducted in 2006. The difference in data shows that while piracy, malware and other counterfeit software was common, the situation was nowhere near as problematic as it is now. With so much data pointing in that direction, the odds of your current software being counterfeit or fake are 50-50 or 60-40 if you’re an optimist.

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