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Software piracy and its relationship to the spread of malware has been a topic this week.

Monday, the Business Software Alliance released a report that estimated the “staggering” number of Internet users swapping software through P2P networks has resulted in 41 percent of applications on computers today being unpatched. (Their report “Software Piracy on the Internet: A Threat to your Security” here.)

Friday, Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulator and competition authority for communications industries, issued a report that said surveying showed 55 percent of people 16-24 said they believed “file sharing through downloading shared copies of copyright music and films” should be legal. Although Ofcom didn’t ask specifically, one can be sure that the 55 percent probably feels the same way about downloading “free” software from P2P networks.

A third of adults thought piracy should be legal as well. The survey showed 42 percent of adults thought it should be illegal, 33 percent said it should not be illegal and 25 percent were not sure. (story here.)

Dancho Danchev, writing on the ZDNet blog (here) pointed out an interesting, though dismal, fact: maybe piracy doesn’t matter.

In spite of the free security updates available by nearly all software vendors, a huge number of users rarely install them. Applications are patched even less than operating systems. He cites information from IBM and Secunia.

So, it is possible that all those pirated operating systems and applications are unpatched and wide open for bot and other malware infections (like Conficker recently), but it doesn’t really matter since a vast number of Internet users don’t update ANY software, legitimate or pirated.

Tom Kelchner

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