• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Enterprises to spend $500bn on piracy problems

businessday-icon

A new study has shown that enterprises worldwide are expected to spend nearly $500 billion (N85.5trn) in 2014, to deal with issues caused by malware deliberately loaded onto pirated software. The study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) shows that $127 billion will be spent dealing with security issues, of which $8 billion of that amount would be from the Middle East and Africa and $364 billion will be used in dealing with data breaches. According to a statement released by Microsoft on the report, not only enterprises would be affected but globally consumers would also be affected. Consumers from Middle East and Africa will pay $2 billion on security threats and costly computer fixes stemming from malware on pirated software, and this will also amount to 1.2 billion hours of wasted time in 2014.

The study, titled “The Link Between Pirated Software and Cybersecurity Breaches,” also revealed that 60 percent of consumers surveyed say their greatest fear from infected software is the loss of data, files or personal information, followed by unauthorised internet transactions and hijacking of email, social networking and bank accounts.

However, 43 percent of those same respondents do not install security updates, leaving their computers open to attack by cybercriminals.

“There is now a firm link between the detected malware on illicit software and criminal organisations, for whom malware in pirated software can be a lucrative vector for cyber attacks. With many of these criminal organisations also behind the distribution of infected software, it means that an increase in software piracy translates to an increased vulnerability to cyber attacks,” says Daniel Kamau, anti-piracy lead for sub-Saharan Africa. “In the sub-Saharan region, the internet population is fast growing, meaning a large and unsuspecting base of targets to cybercriminals. Combine this with the lack of strong cybercrime laws and high piracy rate on the continent and its clear why we are seeing more and more people fall victim to attacks.”

Government officials also expressed concern about the potential impact of cyber-security threats to their nations, especially the loss of business trade secrets or competitive information.

The African continent accounts for only 2 percent of global GDP, yet it accounts for 10 percent of global cybercrime incidents. Across the continent, governments are increasingly partnering local associations and vendors to combat the scourge of piracy and the associated risk of cybercrime. In Nigeria, Microsoft has already partnered the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to combat piracy, which according to the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study, currently sits at 83 percent across the East and Southern Africa region.

On the occasion of ‘The Microsoft Play it Safe Day,’ which held recently, Afam Ezekude, executive director, NCC, reminded all Nigerians that:

· Supplying pirated software material is a criminal offence under The Copyright Act, which can earn the supplier, a fine of up to a N1000 for each offending item and/or a custodial sentence of up to five years in prison. Furthermore, anyone who buys pirated software material, may find themselves being charged as an accessory to a criminal offence.

· Apart from the criminal charge; supplying pirated software material, is also a civil infringement of the copyright owners rights; which apart from the criminal sentence can also simultaneously attract heavy monetary damages against the offending supplier.

·Using pirated software, leaves the computer or other implicated system of such user, exposed to malware, cybercrime/cyber insecurity, which can put sensitive personal and or business information at risk.

“Cybercriminals are profiting from any security lapse they can find, with financially devastating results for everyone,” said David Finn, executive director and associate general counsel, Microsoft Cybercrime Centre. “Motivated by money, they’ve found new ways to break into computer networks so they can grab whatever they want: your identity, your passwords and your money. That is why at the Microsoft Cybercrime Centre, we are focused on putting an end to these malicious acts to keep personal and financial data safe and secure, while reducing the financial incentive for criminals.”

The study was released as part of Microsoft’s ‘Play It Safe’ campaign, a global initiative to create greater awareness of the connection between malware and piracy. Additional highlights from the survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of enterprise losses ($315bn) will be at the hands of organised criminals, nearly 20 percent of the pirated software in enterprises is installed by employees, 28 percent of enterprise respondents reported security breaches causing network, computer or website outages occurring every few months or more; 65 percent of those outages involved malware on end-user computers.

OLUYINKA ALAWODE