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microsoft-cybercrime-center-350x262A new joint study conducted by  the National University of Singapore (NUS) shows that Middle East and African consumers will will pay $2 billion,  on security threats  and costly computer fixes stemming from malware on pirated software.

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 unauthorized Internet transactions (51 percent) and hijacking of email, social networking and bank   accounts (50 percent).

43 percent of those same respondents however said they 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 organizations, for whom malware in pirated software can be a lucrative vector for cyberattacks.

“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 West, East, and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands.

“In sub-Saharan Africa 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’re seeing more and more people fall victim to attacks.”

Government officials expressed concern about the potential impact of cybersecurity threats to their nations.

The survey says that governments are most worried about the loss of business trade secrets or competitive information (59 percent), unauthorized access to confidential government information (55 percent), and the impact of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure (55 percent).

It is estimated that governments could lose more than $50 billion to deal with the costs associated with malware on pirated software.

In Kenya, Microsoft has already partnered with the Kenya Copywrite Board to combat piracy, which according to the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study, currently sits at 83% across the East and Southern Africa region.

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.

Source: Business Week