Getting malware threats from peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads and from sites that offer pirated software is already old news. So, this is no longer surprising to many people. However, recent studies have shown that the issue is becoming more alarming as the years go by.
The research conducted by the International Data Corporation or IDC titled “The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software”, which was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, showed that around 36% of the data shared in P2P and websites that offer counterfeit materials are rigged with malware or malicious software.
The examples of malware threats that users can get from pirated programs offered online are Trojans, backdoor viruses, adware, keyloggers, worms, spyware and other variants of viruses.
The IDC based their data on a 10-country survey with 1,104 individual respondents, 973 business establishments and 268 Chief Information Officers (CIO) or Information Technology (IT) respondents. The study is a follow-up to the similar research conducted by the company in 2006.
IDC stated that the estimated cost of damages made by infected pirated software this year is around 114 billion USD. Aside from the total waste of money, malware threats from pirated software can also lead to users wasting a lot of time cleaning their system and in fixing it. According to the report, the total amount time it takes to deal with malware threats is around 1.5 billion hours a year.
The agency found out that piracy is becoming more rampant in the online community as time goes by. It added that a huge number of users are not even aware that the software that they are using is pirated or fake. Among the reasons why companies are not aware that they are using counterfeit products is that it came preinstalled in their computers upon their purchase.
Then, unauthorized copies of programs that require users to visit sites for activation risk infecting their system with adware or Trojan. The rate of infection from return visits is 36%.
Moreover, 78% of the total number of pirated programs that can be downloaded and installed is embedded with spyware. Then, 45% of pirated software users have reported serious errors and glitches that have made them uninstall the program right away. Overall, the total cost of repairs related to the damages caused by malware threats is 22 billion USD.
How to Prevent Malware Infection Online
Here are ways to prevent getting malware threats online:
- Make sure that you only get the original or authenticated copy of the software that you want for your computer. This way, you can just call the seller for a refund or claim damages if you encounter any problems with the product.
- Avoid getting from unreliable sources, especially from strangers in P2P sharing tools. But if you can’t help yourself from downloading from these sources, study the reviews of other users pertaining to the uploader of the file.
- Equip yourself with a trusted anti-malware program. If you want to acquire software from sites that offer them for free, make sure that you perform a scan before proceeding with the download or installation.