Microsoft has published the results of an investigation into the penetration of pirated Microsoft software in retail PCs.
Importantly the data looked at PCs purchased new, which should, in theory, come pre-loaded with a licensed version of Windows.
The numbers, however, show a shocking level of piracy going on in retail stores, with unwitting customers being one of the main victims.
The survey, which was conducted by purchasing 166 PCs in nine Asian countries, found 100% of PCs purchased in South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand came with pirated software.
India followed with 91%, Indonesia with 90%, Taiwan 73 per cent, Singapore 55 per cent and the Philippines with 43 per cent.
South Korea and India stand out for being very developed markets which are clearly flouting rules around software piracy.
Overall 83% of PCs purchased in the Asian markets between May and July 2018 were loaded with pirated software, but besides a free version of Windows consumers were also delivered a healthy load of malware, according to Microsoft.
In India 85% of the PCs with pirated versions of Windows were loaded with malware, including backdoor software into PCs and bitcoin miners said Mary Jo Schrade, Assistant General Counsel and Regional Director of Digital Crimes Unit in Asia at the Microsoft in Singapore.
“We saw that in every step of this whole process you encounter malware,” said Biplap Sikdar, associate professor at the department of electrical and computing engineering at the National University of Singapore, who took part in the analysis, noting that consumers were at risk of ransomware and having their private data stolen.
“Think! Free software is not really free,” warned Schrade. “Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their techniques to evade security measures and embedding their malware into pirated software is one of their tactics as it allows them to compromise large numbers of personal computers and access the amount of stolen credentials with ease.” “When vendors sell pirated software containing malware in their personal computers, they are not only fueling the spread of malware in the region but are also putting their customers’ personal information and digital identity at the mercy of cybercriminals,” she pointed out.
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