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Business cost of malware spirals to $114bn a year

07 Mar 2013
malware virus security threat

Enterprises will spend $114bn dealing with malware-related cyber attacks this year, according to a recent report by Microsoft and the IDC.

According to the study, losses caused by data breaches can add up to as much as $350bn. Causes behind enterprise system infections included a lack of software updates by IT admins and the use of counterfeited software by end users, says Redmond's report.

The report comes during Microsoft's campaign to squash the use of pirated and counterfeit software. Microsoft has repeatedly reported being slammed by loss revenues through the use of illegally acquired software.

"Our research is unequivocal: inherent dangers lurk for consumers and businesses that take a chance on counterfeit software," said chief researcher at IDC John Gantz.

"Some people choose counterfeit to save money, but this ‘ride-along' malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users alike."

The results are based on interviews with IT managers and chief information officers throughout the world. In total, Microsoft reported that it interviewed 2,077 members of the IT community for its report.

Over 30 percent of those surveyed reported having at least one security breach every month. Respondents said that breaches were caused by malware from end-user's systems half of the time.

About 57 percent of end-users surveyed said they installed software on their computer by themselves. That number proved a surprise to IT administrators who estimated 'only' 38 percent of users installed software themselves.

Those surveyed said that 30 percent of software installed on their systems worked fine.

Another 22 percent of respondents said installed software caused their systems to be overrun by pop-up ads. With an additional 21 percent saying installed software ended up putting malware on their computers.

Perpetuating the use of personally downloaded software by end-users is the fact that most IT admins don't regularly audit their systems.

According to the report, one-third of those surveyed didn't regularly audit end-user computers. Of those who didn't audit their systems, 34 percent said they found malware on end-users PCs.

Of those surveyed 10 percent said they disabled automatic security updates on company wide systems. That number is exacerbated by the statistic that 46 percent of end users do not install software updates on their own.

The report comes as Microsoft begins its campaign to stamp out the use of pirated and counterfeit software. Redmond's Play it Safe campaign aims to put an end to consumers downloading unlicensed software.

Microsoft has recently ramped up its efforts to stop the proliferation of counterfeit software. Last year, the firm lodged complaints against four state-sponsored Chinese businesses to get them to stop using unlicensed Windows software.

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James Dohnert
About

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club, CachedTech.com, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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