Counterfeit software lurks at every corner and can find its way into businesses in a number of different ways. According to the latest Global Software Piracy Study, the percentage of pirated software installed on Hong Kong PCs currently stands at 45 percent though this has been dropping in the last five years. In support of World Intellectual Property Day, Microsoft has launched innovative counterfeit software awareness campaigns – both locally and globally – to educate the public about the threat of piracy, utilising an interactive mobile app and online viral video to tackle the anti-piracy issue with a new edutainment approach.
"Using genuine software with regular security patches is an effective way to protect business computer systems against hacking," says Chief Inspector Joe Chan of the Technology Crime Division, Commercial Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police. "In 2011, we recorded 155 email scamming incidents against SMEs. Using the ‘change of supplier details’ scam, email accounts or servers belonging to SMEs were hacked, resulting in leakage of sensitive trading information to criminals who posed as their partners and conned these companies into depositing money into the criminals’ bank accounts. Total losses exceeded HKD49 million. In partnership with software vendors, we urge all businesses, from SMEs to multinational corporations, to fully support the use of genuine software."
Use of non-genuine software poses serious risks Deployment of counterfeit or pirated software can lead to significant business risks such as identity theft and loss of data, as well as financial risk. A survey by the Harrison Group showed that small businesses using counterfeit software increase their risk of data loss by 73 percent. Additionally, in a test of software acquired through common channels, an independent group found that 24 percent of machines running counterfeit software either became infected at installation, or downloaded and installed malicious software upon connection to the Internet.
"Innovation drives our investment in research and development. As an industry leader, Microsoft is committed to promoting the value of intellectual property in order to encourage continued innovation and protect IP creators across the world," says Hedy Ho, Group Manager, Genuine Software, Microsoft Hong Kong. "Eliminating software piracy is in the interests of everyone, from developers to retail partners to customers, to create a healthy global economy and a better, more secure computing environment for enterprises and consumers."
Turning crisis into business opportunity Going cloud is a new and affordable way to avoid the risks associated with non-genuine software. Microsoft has launched an interactive campaign with the aim of educating local SMEs to enjoy the full value of genuine software by going cloud, using an engaging augmented reality (AR) game. Users of Town Check, a cross-platform mobile AR app, can scan street signs in designated locations to unlock interactive video clips and enter a weekly draw offering smartphones and laptop accessories as prizes. At the same time, the video content educates SME operators about Office 365, which is an always-up-to-date cloud service designed to meet the needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the largest to the smallest, at a predictable monthly subscription rate. Users can stay on the same page with instant messaging and virtual meetings. They can easily work on and share files, documents and calendars. And they can do so on virtually all the devices they already use, from just about anywhere.
At the global level, Microsoft has created a viral video called "Piracy Lurking" for its worldwide anti-piracy campaign aimed at small business viewers. The digital video campaign is designed to heighten awareness of the risks associated with some common, web-based software acquisition methods by which pirated and illegal software can be unintentionally downloaded or purchased. These include auction websites, peer-to-peer networks and online retailers selling illegal software. The video is available on the US Microsoft SMB YouTube channel.
"Playing an active, ongoing role in anti-piracy efforts worldwide, Microsoft recognises piracy as a damaging influence on the global economy and sees raising public awareness about the value of intellectual property as vital in protecting livelihoods and encouraging creative professionals and healthy business development around the world," adds Ho.