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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Mind that pirated software: it probably contains malware

Viruses and hacks in pirated software a huge global problem and consumers are expected to spend $33b to fight malware, study finds
The Straits Times - April 2, 2014
By: COLIN TAN
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Mind that pirated software: it probably contains malware -- ST FILE PHOTO

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. In this case, the price for using pirated software is getting infected with malicious ware, or malware in short.

In a recent report, market research firm IDC found that 65 per cent of Singapore consumers downloaded pirated software from the Internet.

Of this number, half of the users were infected by malware hidden in the pirated software. Yet, 28 per cent of users "infected" did not regularly patch software on their PCs.

Globally, consumers have a one in three chance (36 per cent) of encountering malware from downloading pirated software, IDC added.

Another study by the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that six in 10 PCs (61 per cent) that came pre-installed with pirated software contained hidden viruses, worms and other malware.

Commissioned by Microsoft, the study had the NUS team purchase 203 PCs - 74 per cent were branded ones and the remainder were do-it-yourself computers - through PC resellers in 11 countries: United States, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.

Undergraduates from NUS then used five different anti-malware programs to scan the PCs to find the threats. There were more than 100 different threats in all. On average, that amounted to three threats per PC.

IDC said globally, consumers are expected to spend US$25 billion (S$33 billion) on fixing malware-related problems and waste 1.2 billion hours this year, up from US$22 billion last year.

Of the expected losses, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to account for over 40 per cent, due to its large install base of PCs and high piracy rate.

Malware can cause loss of data and identity theft, plus the hijacking of e-mail, social media and bank accounts.

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