Microsoft PC Test Purchase: Pirated software equals malware infection

PURCHASING a PC with pirated software, or putting in the illegal software, and using them is more costly in the end.

One reason: Majority of PCs using pirated software seem to be more easily infected with malware, such as Trojans and virus.

Remember, crime does not pay.

Malware on Pixabay

Image: thanks to Pixabay.

A Microsoft survey borne this out that, to reiterate, PCs with pirated software would more likely be a liability more than an asset.

Pirated software costs more money in long run

In fact, the American tech titan pointed out that pirated software will likely cost users more than they bargain for, while offering a fertile ground for cybercriminals to exploit and compromised. As shown by the survey.

The Microsoft PC Test Purchase Sweep which examined a total of 166 new PCs bought from nine markets in Asia, such as India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam has found that “83 percent (that’s over four in five PCs) of pirated software-loaded new PCs in Asia are infected with malware.”

It means also that the 83 percent of the PCs in the targeted countries in Asia have pirated software.

Researchers bought the PC samples from retailers offering computers at much lower cost and free software bundles, their means of attracting customers. In fact, the said retailers were also selling pirated software at their store.

The Microsoft Asia PC Test Purchase Sweep is aimed at educating consumers and owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region. It also provides insights on the extensive prevalence of new PCs that come loaded with pirated software and the risks the illegal software can pose to individuals and businesses.

Mary Jo Schrade, assistant general counsel and regional director, Digital Crimes Unit, Microsoft Asia, cited the connection between pirated software and cyber bad guys.

“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 PCs and access vast amount of stolen credentials with ease,” she said.

Vendors selling pirated software with malware in their PCs, Schrade warned, not only trigger the spread of malware Asia.

“(The vendors) are also putting their customers’ personal information and digital identity at the mercy of cybercrimes.”

Microsoft logo on Pixabay

Image: from Microsoft.

The sweep established that vendors’ most common practices from among those who install pirated software on new PCs, they “turn off the security features, such as anti-virus software and Windows Defender as doing this allows them to run the hack-tools needed to active the pirated software.

But a word of caution.

Microsoft said turning off the anti-virus application and Windows Defender makes PCs “vulnerable to malware and other cyberthreats, and the buyers of these PCs may not even realize that their PC is not being protected.”

Further sweep of the PCs yielded the finding that 84 percent of the new PCs running on pirated software were infected with some type of malware, the most common being Trojans and viruses.

What are Trojan and virus — Microsoft

  • Trojans are a type of malware that is employed by cybercriminals to gain remote access and control of devices, allowing them to spy on the users and steal private data. While Trojans typically depend on some form of social engineering to trick users into loading and executing them, bundling them with pirated software makes it easier for cybercriminals to compromise and control PCs.
  • Viruses are another type of malware which can cause infected computers to do a variety of things which are not beneficial to the PC owner, such as terminating devices’ security features, sending spam messages, and contacting remote hosts to download additional malware.

Microsoft described the findings as particularly concerning because customers are drawn to buying PCs that come with special deals as well as free software. The catch is that they do realize there are risks that may be exposing themselves to.

What more, they may not even realize their new PCs have their security features turned off which prevents them from noticing any suspicious activities on their devices.

“Many of these infected PCs’ users are highly susceptible to data loss, including personal documents and sensitive information such as passwords and banking details, as well as identity theft where they lose control of their social media and email accounts.

“Users might also experience compromised PC performance as malware, running in the background, can slow down devices,” the tech firm said.

And what it means to consumers and businesses is a loss of significant monetary, time and productivity losses as they work to resolve issues.

In relation with this, Microsoft has some suggestions for consumers, aside from recommending the use always of genuine software.

  • Keep software current with the latest security patches, which are always free.
  • Follow safe internet practices and do not visit potentially dangerous websites, such as those that offer adult content, illegal downloads, and pirated software, as well as file sharing portals.
  • Avoid using very old software which has reached its end of life and is no longer supported by the software vendor for updates and security patches.

“Using genuine software is the first line of defense against cybercriminals,” said Schrade.



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