Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

UK PCs contain pirated software worth £1 billion

Software used on desktops, laptops and netbooks

Protect your computer from viruses

Viruses are programs that can infect your computer

UK consumers installed over £1 billion worth of pirated software on their PCs last year, according to new figures from a report published today.

The Seventh Annual Business Software Alliance (BSA)/IDC Global Software Piracy Study found that between 2008 and 2009, UK consumers placed $1,581 million worth of unlicensed software on either their desktops, laptops and netbooks.

Pirated software includes operating systems, system software such as databases and security packages, and application software.

However, the report found that installations of unlicensed software in the UK had not risen over the previous year and remained static at 27%, giving the UK the sixth lowest piracy rate out of the 111 countries studied. 

The US had the lowest piracy rate at 20%, while Georgia (95%), Zimbabwe (90+) and Moldova (90+) had the highest.

Commenting on the figures, Michala Wardell, chair of the BSA UK Committee, said: ‘Although the UK has one of the lowest piracy rates in the world, 27% is nothing to be proud of. One billion pounds is an awful lot of money to lose in a recession, and ultimately, this will have an impact on the software industry and the UK economy.’

Viruses can wreak havoc on your computer so don’t be put off protecting your computer from attack using Which? Best Buy security software

The report goes on to warn that by installing unlicensed software, consumers and businesses were putting their computer security at risk, since pirated software often contained malware and is unsupported by manufacturer warranty. 

In addition, pirated software usually requires more support than legitimate software since it does not come with a steady stream of updates and patches, the report said.

Research from an 2006 IDC study, ‘The Dangers of Counterfeit Software, IDC White Paper, October 2006’, revealed that one in four websites that offered pirated software or counterfeit activation keys attempted to install infectious computer code, like Trojan horses and key loggers, on test computers.

Almost 60% of the counterfeit software or key generators downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) sites contained malicious or unwanted code designed to capture key strokes or send users to bogus websites where they would enter personal data that enables identity theft.

The study also revealed that the costs of recovery from a security incident resulting from pirated software on a PC could exceed $1,000, far more than the cost of buying legitimate software in the first place.

How to follow the latest Which? Tech news

Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.

Prefer RSS? Don’t miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed

For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.

Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared – find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up – we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 – find the best laptop deals

Back to top