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Pirated software leads to infection

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Users of counterfeit software are opening themselves up to risk of infection by worms, Trojans and viruses ‚ while legitimate resellers are losing millions of Rands a month to rogue dealers selling unlicensed software.

That’s the word from Microsoft South Africa, which today released the results of a recent study by the Harrison Group showing that users of pirated software can face devastating security breaches.

In the study, which compared genuine and pirated Microsoft products, one in four (24%) of the pirated operating systems became infected at installation, or independently downloaded and installed malicious software upon connection to the internet.

‚Our results indicate that counterfeit users pay a high cost for the low price of counterfeit software. Users of pirated software are opening themselves up to the potential for both catastrophic security breaches and significant losses in productivity and performance, regardless of the platform they use, and regardless of whether the counterfeit software’s source is the web, a street market stall, or an unprincipled hardware retailer,‚ said the Harrison Group researchers.

The study was released in support of the inaugural Play Fair Day, a global initiative to emphasise the importance of legitimate software. As part of Play Fair Day, Microsoft is holding activities in more than 50 countries around the world to educate businesses and consumers that fake software is not only dangerous to personal information, but dangerous to the economic landscape as well.

Mark Reynolds, Microsoft South Africa’s small, medium and partner business lead, said piracy was literally taking millions of Rands every month from the pockets of honest resellers and damaging the economies of emerging countries.

‚The ability to insert more than $1.5 billion per year into these economies should be reason enough to play fair, regardless of the other inherent dangers pirated software brings to a business,‚ said Reynolds. ‚Pirated and counterfeit software is lining the pockets of criminals. What’s more, when companies use pirated software, it hinders job opportunities and stifles innovation. It is also just plain wrong.‚

The trade in counterfeit goods is costing South Africa millions of rands annually in lost revenues, says Mandla Mnyatheli, chief director of company and IP enforcement with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

‚Every day we strive to compete in a tough economy, but when our competitors do not use legal software, it is very challenging,‚ said John Ferreira of PC Zone in KwaZulu-Natal. ‚We are a certified Microsoft Clean Dealer and take a lot of pride knowing that our decision to use and sell only legitimate software is not only helping to strengthen our business, but also helping us help other businesses grow.‚

Two Johannesburg financial advisors who inadvertently bought fake software on a local website both realised their error after attempting to activate their new purchases. ‚Luckily, the costs to me were no more than the purchase price of the fake software and the time taken to install and uninstall, but there was a real concern around my job and my professional license, as I am required to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and can lose my ability to earn an income should I lose my license‚ said one consultant.

More information about the financial impacts of using illegal software can be found by visiting http://www.playfairday.com. More information on software piracy and its effects can also be found on the official Microsoft antipiracy Twitter account, @MSFT_BuyLegit.

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