Microsoft Research Reveals 1 in 6 Use Illegal Software

Microsoft research has revealed that a third of people believe it is 'acceptable to pirate software,' while 1 in 6 admitted to using illegal computer programs.

The research took place ahead of the Digital Economy Bill which is to contain many clauses about web piracy. It has revealed that many people are unaware of the security threats involved in using pirated software such as identity theft and virus attacks.

The report highlights the consequences of using pirated software as well, finding that it has led to an introduction of a computer virus in 62 per cent of cases, a loss of personal data in 31 per cent of experiences and caused a user's computer to crash in 38 per cent of cases.

"People need to understand that there are inherent risks to their own security, including identity theft, from using pirated software products and that they can often be the victim of other's criminal actions, such as an employer using pirated software in the workplace," said Susie Winter from the Alliance Against IP Theft.

The survey also revealed that 1 in 8 employed adults use pirated software at work. London was found to be the UK's piracy hotspot with 14 per cent of people using pirated software in the office.

"Businesses have many excuses for not managing software effectively. Cost cutting, ignorance and changes in IT personnel are often cited during legal action," said Julian Swan, from the Business Software Alliance. "But the cost of being found using unlicensed software far outweighs any perceived savings. Businesses expose themselves to the risks of fines, reputational damage and data loss if they allow software to be duplicated or downloaded from illegal web sites. It may seem like a cost saving but it's a likely cause of major regret."

It is hoped that the Digital Economy Bill which is expected to be passed in the next few weeks is will cut down on the £1.2 million that was lost last year to cyber crime through a multi-step solution to internet piracy. Although the details are still unknown, it is thought that this program will begin with letters of warning and possible bandwidth cappings for hose found guilty of software piracy.

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