In a new IDC white paper commissioned by Microsoft, cleverly titled "The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software: How Pirated Software Can Compromise the Cybersecurity of Consumers, Enterprises, and Nations...and the Resultant Costs in Time and Money" (full PDF), there's a boatful of interesting statistics around "the prevalence of malicious code and unwanted software -- such as viruses, Trojan horses, keystroke-capturing software, authentication backdoors, and spyware -- in pirated software and on the Web sites and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks where such software is found."

"[U]sing information from a 10-country survey of 1,104 consumer respondents, 973 business user respondents, and 268 CIO/IT manager respondents," the IDC investigation alleges that piracy and counterfeit software runs rampant through the digital universe, and that many users might not even be aware that their software is fake.

Most of the business news will report the big numbers: the IDC report estimates that "the direct costs to enterprises from dealing with malware from counterfeit software will hit $114 billion this year" and that consumers will waste 1.5 billion hours of time dealing with malware. But below the headline numbers are a host of fascinating discoveries, among them:

  • Both end users and companies reported that a high percentage of pirated software came preinstalled on purchased computers.
  • Counterfeit copies that require return visits to Web sites for stolen activation keys drive the chance of getting hit with a Trojan/adware infection to 36 percent.
  • 78 percent of pirated software comes attached with spyware.
  • 45 percent of end-users of pirated software reported significant performance errors that made them uninstall.
  • A total cost of $22 billion related to pirated-software-based infections.

Read the full White Paper (PDF).

Peter has been working at since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.