Piracy has grown to become one of the defining issues of the digital age. As the film industry battles with the likes of the Pirate Bay, and Adobe takes Forever 21 to task, the one sure thing is that this problem isn't going to be solved any time soon.
No matter what efforts are made by companies and legislators the world over, for as long as the general public has access to computers, programs will be downloaded illegally.
For Microsoft, the problem is especially severe, particularly in China. Software sales are the firm's bread and butter, particularly those of its flagship Windows operating system, as such the scale of piracy in the far east diminishes its capability to expand there considerably.
In an attempt to help combat this, Microsoft has sponsored a survey by the IDC, which has found that public and enterprise consumers face a 33% chance of finding malware in their systems if they choose to download software illegally.
This malware often offers a 'back-door' into user's PCs, allowing malicious entities free-rein to take what they wish from the confines of internal systems. Malware is not limited to being integrated with downloads, sometimes it can come with new PCs too.
The IDC survey also found that there is a 60% chance of discovering malware on a PC purchased with illegal software. As such, purchasing from reputable vendors is recommended.
Those who wish to pursue such a route are also reminded that illegally obtained software does not have the luxury of regular patching.
This means that old security vulnerabilities are not dealt with, leaving users open to a whole suite of issues. A study from security strategist Derek Manky shows that the large majority of security vulnerabilities exploited by such persons tend to date from before 2010, meaning that patching and having the newest versions of software is generally advisable.
Have you been affected by malware? Let us know in the comments below.