Cybercriminals are profiting from any security lapse they can find. Study Report


Enterprises worldwide are expected to spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with issues caused by malware deliberately loaded onto pirated software, a Microsoft press statement said on Thursday.

A joint study released in Pakistan by Microsoft during a media roundtable held by the company as part of its “Play It Safe” campaign, a global initiative to create greater awareness of the connection between malware and piracy.

The study titled “The Link Between Pirated Software and Cyber Security Breaches” is a joint study conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore.

According to the study, around 127 billion people are dealing with security issues and $364 billion are dealing with data breaches. Global consumers, on the other hand, are expected to spend $25 billion and waste 1.2 billion hours this year because of security threats and costly computer fixes stemming from malware on pirated software.

The study also revealed that 60 percent of consumers surveyed say their greatest fear from infected software is the loss of data, files or personal information, followed by unauthorised Internet transactions (51 percent) and hijacking of email, social networking and bank accounts (50 percent). However, 43 percent of those same respondents do not install security updates, leaving their computers open to attack by cybercriminals.

“Cybercriminals are profiting from any security lapse they can find, with financially devastating results for everyone,” said André Jahel, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit Lead for Pakistan. “Motivated by money, they’ve found new ways to break into computer networks so they can grab whatever they want: your identity, your passwords and your money. That’s why at the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, we’re focused on putting an end to these malicious acts to keep personal and financial data safe and secure, while reducing the financial incentive for criminals.”

Additional highlights from the survey showed that nearly two-thirds of enterprise losses ($315 billion) will be at the hands of organised criminals. Almost 20 percent of the pirated software in enterprises is installed by employees and 28 percent of enterprise respondents reported security breaches causing network, computer or website outages occurring every few months or more; 65 percent of those outages involved malware on end-user computers.

The NUS forensics analysis of 203 new PCs loaded with pirated software found that a staggering 61 percent of the PCs were pre-infected with unsafe malware, including Trojans, worms, viruses, hack tools, rootkits and adware. These PCs, purchased through resellers and PC shops in 11 markets, included more than 100 discrete threats.

Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar, Secretary (IT & Telecom) of the Government of Pakistan said the government “wants to develop and educate people in the technology sector and Play It Safe Day will be really beneficial to raise awareness on the impact of cybercrime and pirated software.”

“A lot has been planned, and with the 3G auction taking place in some time, it will give a big boost to our IT industry. Therefore, to educate consumers and business owners about how to avoid purchasing pirated software and the dangers linked to cyber security crimes is the need of the hour for the country. Microsoft is doing a great job by organising such events and it is with their help, I am sure, we will eradicate software piracy and cybercrime from Pakistan,” he added.

The survey also showed that governments are most worried about the loss of business trade secrets or competitive information (59 percent), unauthorised access to confidential government information (55 percent), and the impact of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure (55 percent). It is estimated that governments could lose more than $50 billion to deal with the costs associated with malware on pirated software.

It was concluded that whether an individual user, a small business, enterprise or even a government institution, all are encouraged to buy new computers from reputable sources to ensure they receive genuine software. Microsoft is committed to protecting its unsuspecting consumers from downloading or purchasing non genuine software that exposes victims to malware that can lead to identity theft, loss of data and system failures.

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