Pirated Software Is Injurious To Data Security: Study

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jul 24, 2014


Easily available pirated software is injurious to data security, says a recent study carried out in India. According to the study commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by independent forensic science lab Truth Labs, 65 percent of the tested samples of DVDs and PCs with pre-installed software were found affected by one or more malware. Besides, 24 percent pirated samples of Windows XP Professional were found infected with “Trojan Back Orifice” which enables remote access and control of a device. The study also suggests that 90 percent of the samples in the form of DVDs gave false positive results in anti-piracy check tests, thereby cheating the user to believe that the installed product was a genuine one.

The study tested a total of 230 samples consisting of 174 samples on DVDs and 56 pre-installed products in laptops collected from 10 locations across the country in collaboration with Microsoft India. “The majority of the malware identified in the samples enabled remote access and control by hackers followed by backdoors and keylogger which pose a threat to the privacy of the user,” Truth Labs Founder Chairman Gandhi Kaza said.

He added that the study indicated that many laptops supplied to government agencies have pre-installed pirated software and emphasized that malware as a tool of cyber terrorism can even compromise the country’s critical infrastructure, apart from stealing data and denying service to users.

Most pirated software sellers provide their customers with an “activation key” - a unique code to install software that is issued with the legitimate product, said the study, highlighting that 9 percent of these keys were invalid in the case of counterfeit software and 91 percent of the samples failed to execute a software update, exposing the user to further vulnerabilities.

Dr Gulshan Rai, who heads the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) says that while it is imperative for users to be aware of the risks posed by counterfeit software, manufacturers could do their bit as well by not pricing their products prohibitively. “Prices of these software should come to a reasonable level. That way people wouldn’t tend to buy cheap or free pirated products and hackers keep a tab on the popular free software made available on the Internet and exploit the vulnerabilities involved,” he said.

The study can be extremely important in creating public awareness. Likewise the researchers believe it is important to bring down the cost of software in the country to curb piracy.