But when we need software or another computer, many of us have no problem letting people we’ve never met — sometimes from countries we’ve never visited (and may have never heard of) — give us license keys, hardware deals and other great bargains. And we use these too-good-to-be-true tools to do work with extremely sensitive data.
Don’t believe me? In surveying 1,700 workers, tech officers, and government officials in 13 countries, along with 203 computers purchased from resellers and specialty stores, research group IDC and the National University of Singapore1 found that the chance of malware being present in pirated software is about one in three. On a computer bought on the cheap, with pirated software present? 61 percent. And even if your network is in good shape, users who are able to download and install these programs onto company machines are potentially putting you at risk.
Malware cost businesses across the globe $491 billion in cash, downtime and other bottom-line hits in 2014, according to the study. When you take a look at the study’s data more closely, the message is clear: that copy of QuickBooks that wasn’t paid for today is likely going to cost you something down the road.
Let’s assume that you don’t want your company or your home to host botnets, viruses, spam servers — or to have vast amounts of your personal or company data breached. What can you do?