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Microsoft Warns of Increased Malware in Pirated Software

According to Microsoft, reports about fake computer software that are largely corrupted by malicious programs like viruses have increased twofold during 2007-08, counting some 150,000. This figure is truly huge considering the fact that complaints about them come voluntarily from end-users

David Finn, Associate General Counsel for Microsoft's Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting, states that end-users who are fooled into acquiring fake software come across computer viruses, bear risk of identity theft, lose their private data, and waste precious money and time, as reported by InformationWeek on December 3, 2009.

According to Microsoft, counterfeit applications are getting increasingly perilous. Citing an IDC report of 2006, the company said that 25% of counterfeit applications were designed to load malicious or unwanted software. Lately, Media Surveillance, a German anti-piracy firm, discovered that 32% of many fake copies of Windows along with hacks, counting many hundreds actually carried malware.

However, the IDC research, which combines potentially harmless unwanted programs with actually hazardous programs, might exaggerate the volume of truly risky software in the wild. Similarly, by including 'hacks' in the estimation of harmful software, Media Surveillance could bring in an increased number of malicious programs into the scenario considering just fake Windows copies.

Media Surveillance spokesman Markus Schweitzer states that fake computer programs are being utilized for compromising systems and adding them to botnets, as reported by InformationWeek on December 3, 2009.

As per an estimation, organizations using counterfeit/unlicensed software have 73% more chances of experiencing data loss and 73% more chances of encountering computer disruption in contrast to companies that use authorized software.

Disturbingly, sometimes users aren't even aware that they might be using pirated software. Crooks frequently even imitate Microsoft's software packaging format so that consumers might not be able to tell whether the product is legitimate or otherwise.

Hence, Microsoft is initiating an awareness campaign along with action enforcement to defeat counterfeiting of software through an active collaboration with law enforcement, government agencies and others with respect to 300 criminal and civil acts across 70 countries in what it calls 'Consumer Action Day.'

Related article: Microsoft Patches Live OneCare to Tackle Quarantined E-Mails

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