Computer users will spend 1.5 billion hours and $22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware, while global enterprises will spend $114 billion to deal with the impact of a malware-induced cyberattacks, says a Microsoft study.
According to the study commissioned by Microsoft Corp and conducted by IDC, 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 cybercrime reality is that counterfeiters are tampering with the software code and lacing it with malware.
Some of this malware records a person's every keystroke -- allowing cybercriminals to steal a victim's personal and financial information -- or remotely switches on an infected computer's microphone and video camera, giving cybercriminals eyes and ears in boardrooms and living rooms.
"The best way to secure yourself and your property from these malware threats when you buy a computer is to demand genuine software," said David Finn, associate general counsel in the Microsoft Cybercrime Center.
The study -- The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software -- was released as part of Microsoft's 'Play It Safe' campaign, a global initiative to bring awareness to issues related to software piracy.
"Some people choose counterfeit to save money, but this 'ride-along' malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users alike," John Gantz, chief researcher at IDC, said.
The global study analysed 270 websites and peer-to-peer networks, 108 software downloads, and 155 CDs or DVDs, and it interviewed 2,077 consumers and 258 IT managers or chief information officers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Thailand, the UK and the US.
According to the study, 64 per cent of the people respondents knew who had used counterfeit software experienced security issues and 45 per cent of the time, counterfeit software slowed their PCs, and the software had to be uninstalled.
As many as 48 per cent of respondents noted that their greatest concern with using counterfeit software was data loss while 29 per cent were most concerned with identity theft, the study said.