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Microsoft Links Malware Rates To Pirated Windows

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the wishful-self-interest dept.

Security 348

CWmike writes "Microsoft said today that computers in countries with high rates of software piracy are more likely to be infected because users are leery of applying security patches. 'There is a direct correlation between piracy and the malware infection rate,' said Jeff Williams, head manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. Highlighting research that showed worms to be the most prevalent computer security problem today, Williams said the link between PC infection rates and piracy is due to the hesitancy of users of pirated software to use Windows Update. China's piracy rate is more than four times that of the US, but the use of Windows Update in China is significantly below that in this country. Same for Brazil and France. But Microsoft's own data doesn't always support William's contention that piracy, and the hesitancy to use Windows Update, leads to more infected PCs. China, for example, boasted a malware infection rate — as defined by the number of computers cleaned for each 1,000 executions of the MSRT — of just 6.7 per thousand, significantly below the global average of 8.7 or the US's rate of 8.2. France's infection rate of 7.9 in the first half of 2009 was also below the worldwide average."

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348 comments

So.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956902)

So malware is Microsoft's fault for not patching pirated machines? Or did I miss something...

Re:So.... (4, Funny)

Cartan (452962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956936)

Nah, can't be. They wouldn't call it "genuine advantage" then, would they?

Make WGA work for you (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958322)

YMMV, but as an experiment, I chose the "alternate validation" thing long ago on a legitimate installation of Windows. Copy pasted the code into the window, then pasted the code into an email. Went to a pirated copy of Windows, ran the "alternate validation" thing again, and posted the prior code into the little window. This machine had failed WGA validation at least 2 times, but when I pasted that code into the window, suddenly it was good. The two installations were on similar, but not identical, hardware - which may mean anything, or nothing. It was an experiment that worked at least once, and may work for you.

Re:So.... (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957068)

So malware is Microsoft's fault for not patching pirated machines? Or did I miss something...

Yes and no. It is true that by limiting patches to "legitimate" copies, they are making the odds of malware infection worse, and in doing so, are contributing to the botnet problem that creates truckloads of spam, wasted bandwidth, DOS attacks, and other nightmares that hurt everyone including their legitimate users. So I think they're utter morons for acting the way they do.

That said, this is not the whole story. A large percentage of malware comes from people installing pirated software. People who pirate Windows are... wait for it... more likely to pirate other software, too. Therefore, you'd expect a strong correlation between malware rate and pirated copies of Windows even if Microsoft did everything they could to keep pirated copies of Windows patched. Their "Genuine Advantage" crap is merely compounding the problem.

Re:So.... (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959088)

People who pirate Windows are... wait for it... more likely to pirate other software, too.

Actually, the only other product I pirate is MS Office. Why do I only pirate MS products? Because they charge absurd prices for them. If they charged reasonable prices (say $100 for a FULL version of Windows 7, not some feature restricted upgrade version), I'd be fine with paying it. If they want to charge $400, well fuck them, I'm pirating it.

Yes, you missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957094)

You missed the bit about it being the pirate's fault for having a pirated copy. After all, if their copy wasn't pirated, it wouldn't stop working when they applied the security patches.

Re:So.... (5, Insightful)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957120)

You're not applying the proper spin. They are trying to spin it so the pirates look like the problem, when in reality they are holding everyone's security hostage in hopes of scaring a few users into buying a legit copy of Windows.

MS Fuud (1)

NuShrike (561140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958642)

The actual spin is that "it's not MS's fault" for perpetuating the outdated distribution method of selling/shipping unpatched versions of Windows to end-users and expecting them to patch up to the latest version. Sure, people can do rollups but it's OPTIONAL.

NO other security-conscious application these days dares to publish anything but the latest security-patched version.

If every OS image being installed was at least the latest "image" from one quarter ago, we definitely would have less problems as time goes by with new systems going online almost fully-patched and old patched systems go offline.

Re:MS Fuud (3, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958958)

NO other security-conscious application these days dares to publish anything but the latest security-patched version.

I, on the other hand, am inclined to think otherwise.

I don't think that anybody in their right mind would call Fedora Linux lacking in security, but if you were to download the install DVD for Fedora 11, the latest version, what you'd get is exactly what you'd have downloaded on the first day it was available. Then, after installation, you'd have to download all the updates needed to bring your system up to date. How is this different from what Microsoft does?

Re:So.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959020)

Are you stupid? They're not holding anyone's security hostage - If your copy is legit, your security is fine, if your copy isn't even meant to work, your security sucks. Pirates can just buy the damn thing and stop bitching, there is nothing wrong here.

Re:So.... (2, Insightful)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957984)

To be totally fair, people who don't pay for their software (pirates) aren't actually customers, and Microsoft has no responsibility towards people who aren't their customers.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958784)

That's too simplistic, that all too easy cop-out "we didn't do it!!1!". But it doesn't fly:

They have substantial market share, meaning that there inevitably will be some unlicensed installations, and if those remain unpatched that increases the infection pressure on the entire population including the licensed parts. So it is in the interest of licensed users that unlicensed users run fully security patched versions, even if perhaps not fully non-security-feature patched. And since micros~1 are the only ones that realistically can provide patches, being closed source and all that (exceptions notwithstanding) it's up to them to do it.

And arguably, they did too do it, by selling shoddy software and making security not a priority as quoted by whatsisface veep. From that bit alone they have a moral responsibility to fix it. But they have already made it abundantly clear that they have the morals of a micros~1 to not do it anyway.

So yes, yes they do have a responsibility for delivering software without the security holes to everyone, in the interest of their paying customers.

Re:So.... (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958832)

people who don't pay for their software (pirates) aren't actually customers

I've paid for my Microsoft software and I still get a shitload of botnet-posted spam. Likewise, I have to do routine tech support for friends laptops with malware infested Windows installs despite the laptops having legit versions of Windows installed by the manufacturer.

So are you suggesting that Microsoft has no responsibility to myself and my friends, or are you saying that they're incapable of fulfilling that responsibility?

Re:So.... (2, Insightful)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959042)

I fail to understand your point. Are you trying to say that Malware on your computer is caused by some guy on the other side of the world neglecting to run Windows Update?

Re:So.... (3, Insightful)

yukk (638002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959076)

To be totally fair, people who don't pay for their software (pirates) aren't actually customers, and Microsoft has no responsibility towards people who aren't their customers.

That's not totally true. If all those pirates were to dump Windows for some other O/S, then Microsoft's market share would drop, weakening their near monopolistic hold on the market which allows them to sell other things and force wretched terms on vendors.

Re:So.... (2, Insightful)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958106)

Look at it this way. You pirate windows, your box joins a botnet, and who suffers? Some other poor SOB. Somewhere there's a corporate site to DDOS, somewhere there's an account to brute-force, and Microsoft's reputation takes a fall. Remind me where's the genuine advantage in that again?

Re:So.... (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958464)

That's not at all how I read TFA. To me, it came off as the infringer's fault, not Microsoft's. I didn't smell any insinuation otherwise.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958964)

So malware is Microsoft's fault for not patching pirated machines? Or did I miss something...

Yes, in fact, you did. While beating the crap out of US and European people (not "pirates", mind you) who installed unauthorized copies of their crapware, MS actively encouraged the practice in places like China, just to grab market share. Maybe the Chinese are simply better at getting around the WGA thing as well, as noted in a posting below.

While winking at unauthorized installations in China, MS's attitude toward US and European users was much like the US used to have about pot grown in South America -- spray it with paraquat and let unknowing users die from the results.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959122)

i got xp rooted twice in a year at work, where it runs only legitimate os and software and updates are applied. Couldn't have done much worse with a pirated version... could I ;)

WGA could be at fault (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956932)

Including Windows Genuine Validation is the likely culprit for this.

Re:WGA could be at fault (5, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957062)

The very same program that's well-known for marking valid copies as pirated and then holding people's data/work environment hostage until they cough up another $200+. Yeah, I'm leery of that kind of thing too. Why should I let them install a program that takes up a good 20MB of RAM when it's running to make me prove that I'm not a pirate?

No one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956934)

wow, no one wants to touch this one?

patches break my other software (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956938)

I'm not hesitant of MS patches because of piracy, I'm hesitant because i use this machine to do all my Photoshop work and the last 4 auto patches crash Photoshop roughly every 6 min rendering my computer completely useless for it's primary purpose.

Re:patches break my other software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29956962)

I use Photoshop all of the time and have never had this issue with any Microsoft updates. Were you able to identify which patches caused this and get it fixed?

Re:patches break my other software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957862)

was about to saw the same thing, i use it almost daily and i can't remember any problems.

Re:patches break my other software (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958098)

Solution: Stop pirating Photoshop.

Just suppose... (3, Insightful)

ichbineinneuben (1065378) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956942)

Suppose it was possible to apply security patches without installing Windows Genuine Advantage (malware by anyone's definition except Microsoft's). Would that make a difference? Perhaps what they are seeing is really just a choice users make between Microsoft malware and "aftermarket" malware.

Re:Just suppose... (4, Informative)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957034)

It is actually possible to install patches without running headfirst into WGA. Infact there are TWO ways:
  • When choosing mode of autoupdate choose the one that requires you to choose which patches to download and install, WGA is one of the Security patches you uncheck it and it goes away forever.
  • Have security patches installed in redistributed form, they are available from MS or even torrent sites

Re:Just suppose... (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957096)

Have security patches installed in redistributed form, they are available from MS or even torrent sites

Am I the only one who sees the problem here? Why do you think all those machines are infected with malware in the first place? :-D

Re:Just suppose... (3, Insightful)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957184)

Downloading and applying patches from non-authoritative sources, i.e torrents, without some sort of checksum assurance sounds like a very bad idea.

Re:Just suppose... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957052)

Suppose it was possible to apply security patches without installing Windows Genuine Advantage..

I think it is possible. According to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/892130 [microsoft.com]:

What if I decide not to use Windows Genuine Advantage to validate my copy of Windows?

If you have a genuine copy of Windows but decide not to complete the validation process, you can still obtain critical software updates by using the Automatic Updates feature.

I'm not sure if this is true because I stopped using pirated copies of XP long before WGA came out, but it looks as though you can continue to receive updates via Automatic Updates even if you decline to use WGA. I think the more likely scenario is that many people disable automatic updates because they are either oblivious to updating software, don't care about updates, or are afraid their software is going to become disabled if it tries to phone home.

Re:Just suppose... (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957172)

Suppose it was possible to apply security patches without installing Windows Genuine Advantage (malware by anyone's definition except Microsoft's). Would that make a difference?

Quite likely, but Microsoft is definitely within their rights to insist that people pay for their software. You and I may find it to be unwieldy, intrusive and obnoxious, but that's our problem, not theirs.

If people don't want to deal with the mess and hassle of keeping their Windows machines clean and up to date, they have alternatives. They can pony up for a Mac or they can install Linux. Heck, if they're absolutely committed to using Windows without paying, they can run it in a snapshotted VM on Linux.

Just last week I wrote a newspaper column [imagicity.com] advocating Ubuntu Karmic over Windows 7, so I'm no fan of Windows whatsoever. But as someone who writes a fair amount of software, I fully respect Microsoft's right to license it - and enforce that license - as they see fit.

The fact that they're doing so in such a way as to drive the world away from them is just gravy, as far as I'm concerned. 8^)

Re:Just suppose... (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957676)

If they want to do that fine, but they should be liable for the times when they misidentify a copy as pirated.

Also, I take it that you haven't actually bothered to read the EULA that comes with Windows because it's an absolute joke. Worse still is that it changes regularly when doing updates and I'm willing to bet that if I call them and say that I'm rejecting the new version that they won't let me have my money back for the copies I've paid for.

Re:Just suppose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958950)

I like ponies.

Easily explained (2, Interesting)

hudsucker (676767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956950)

Well, China is behind an all encompassing firewall.

And the French refuse to install malware written in English.

Users are leery of applying patches because? (3, Insightful)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956970)

And users (with both legit and pirated copies) are leery of applying patches because of Microsoft Genuine Advantage and its ilk. Does this come as a surprise to them?

Gee. I wonder why . . . (3, Insightful)

base3 (539820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956978)

. . . people would be "leery" of installing "security patches," MS having pushed down things like WGA as a "critical updates." Of fscking course the people running dodgy copies of Windows are going to assume that each new wave of patches might come with a copy protection trojan, in light of the fact they've done it before. So in fact, Microsoft has caused the problem they're bellowing about in the name of attempting to inhibit piracy of Windows.

Re:Gee. I wonder why . . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958704)

You know, there's one more step in the causality chain. If they hadn't installed a pirated copy, then WGA wouldn't have been a problem.

I really don't have much sympathy for somebody with a non-legitimate copy being burned by WGA, nor for anybody who avoids security patches so that they won't be affected by WGA.

As an analogy, consider a prison full of murderers. Is it the fault of the police that the jail is full of murderers? Note for the moronic here: I'm not saying that pirating software is on a moral level with murder; clearly there's a vast difference.

My sympathies are for people with legitimate copies that have been burned. But pirates being leery of installing patches is the *pirates'* fault, even if Microsoft released an update that explodes and kills everybody in the room when they update a pirate copy. Note for the moronic here: Microsoft releasing such an update would be considerably worse than software piracy, and Microsoft would be at fault for deaths in that case, but the pirates are still responsible for being leery of patches.

Re:Gee. I wonder why . . . (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959054)

I really don't have much sympathy for somebody with a non-legitimate copy being burned by WGA, nor for anybody who avoids security patches so that they won't be affected by WGA.

Sure, but do you have any sympathy for the people being spammed and DDoSed by botnets caused by Microsoft deciding to try to wring a few more tiny golden egglets out of the golden goose? Not to mention that by pushing a copy protection self-help trojan as a security update, they eroded the trust of legitimate users in their automated update process, resulting in even more unpatched machines.

Imagine that... (1, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956994)

Block unauthorized copies from receiving patches, and unauthorized copies have more malware.
Who'dda thunk it?

Stands to reason. (5, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957038)

They're pirates. Of course they're going to run malicious software.

What the hell else would pirates do with a computer, donate to charity and solve world hunger? No, they're going to use it to look up www.saucywenches.com [saucywenches.com] or download illegal treasure maps, or perform DDoS attacks on Royal Navy ships. They'd use a pirate version of Quicken to count their doubloons and inventory their treasure chest. They'd be looking up suspicious sites for syphilis treatments. They'd manually edit the Windows Registry with nothing but a cutlass and a corkscrew.

Re:Stands to reason. (1)

pnevin (168332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957104)

Those domain-squatter-loving pirate bastards!

Re:Stands to reason. Arrrrrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957916)

Foiled again by bad navigation skills!

Re:Stands to reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959034)

Yar, ye forgot t' name scurvy. We be scurvy dogs! Not gettin' enough vitamin C:

That's crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957054)

Average users who don't pirate software traditionally also don't have the knowledge required to keep their computers clean from such things.

Re:That's crap (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958682)

As a PC repairman who has been in the biz since the days of Win3.x, I'd like to point out that there is a MUCH bigger reason for botnets, drivebys, etc-Trialware and updates not turned on at the factory. Do you know how many times I have seen a Dell/HP/Compaq/Acer cross my desk with the SAME copy of Norton from x years ago running useless in the taskbar, along with Windows Update having been left off at the factory and therefor unpatched since it left the factory? if you said pretty much every single damned time, then you are correct!

I've known quite a few pirates over the years, and usually they can get the patches no problem if they so desire, someplace like Autopatcher [autopatcher.com], which pulls the updates of of the MSFT servers and can have WGA unchecked, comes to mind, but they just don't give a crap. But the clueless that bought some "Best Buy Special" or whatever Dell has on sale this week is MUCH more likely in my experience to be running the same level of patches that came from the factory.

I just wonder how much piracy is gonna promote WinXP over Win7 myself. From what I understand (haven't gotten around to installing mine yet, as I'm still trying to decide whether to triple boot or blast my XP X64) Windows 7 is MUCH harder to pirate, and of course we all know one of the reasons why Windows and Office is pretty much everywhere is that those that couldn't afford it could pirate them easily. Will the extra difficulty make folks switch to Linux? Or will it cause XP to just keep going and going like the Energizer bunny? I'm betting the latter as my experience with Linux is the OS still has too many "lack of driver" issues. It would be funny if after all their years of bitching about piracy if they finally came up with a "foolproof" way to make folks buy it and they just walked away instead.

But piracy isn't the source of all the malware IMNSHO, it is the frankly shitty trialware and default settings on the boxes from Dell/Best Buy/Walmart/Rent A Center, etc.

safer users (2, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957098)

Wouldn't those pirating an OS be less likely to have infected computers simply because they would be more likely to be more computer literate than your average user? Granted, it is not hard to get and install pirated copies, but your average user who falls for Nigerian scams and self-installing anti-virus malware probably wouldnt be doing much downloading besides some music, if at all. I would assume that someone downloading a pirated version of Windows probably does not use IE, and probably follows safe browsing guidelines as well.

Re:safer users (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957362)

In Brazil several computer stores sell PCs wirh a pirated version of windows pre-installed. So it's very likely that a lot of those 'computer pirates' are computer iliterates. Also, pirate versions of any popular application, movies and songs can be easily bought on the streets at broad day light -- not in dark alleys. So, if a person sees "Computer with genuine MS Windows XP" it's not unlikely that they would ask the salesman "can you make it cheaper if you sell it with a pirated version of windows?", even if it's a complete layperson. I believe that things are a bit different in the US, where you have to have at least heard about p2p technology in order to enjoy pirate software.

Re:safer users (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957508)

So you're saying the people who fall for phishing scams and untrusted unvetted code overlap significantly with the ones who run Windows? Whodathunk? ;)

Re:safer users (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957588)

> Wouldn't those pirating an OS be less likely to have infected computers
> simply because they would be more likely to be more computer literate
> than your average user?

No. They don't install it themselves: they don't even know what an operating system is. They just buy a pc from the shop that has the best prices, is conveniently located, and promises to include all the software they could need.

Re:safer users (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957768)

But in that case, they arent the ones doing the pirating, the store is. I am referring to those that actually go out and get and install the program themselves. To use a car analogy, that's like going out and stealing a car vs. buying a car from a shady dealer that may or may not actually be stolen.

Re:safer users (1)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957740)

There are plenty of people that sell computers with pirated versions of Windows installed. Of course, the really computer illiterate will buy from someplace like FutureShop.

Always on Internet connections?.. (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957110)

infection rate -- as defined by the number of computers cleaned for each 1,000 executions of the MSRT

Wouldn't the rates of infections be severely affected by how long the machine stays online? Because that increases both — the opportunity to infect the machine, and its value for the hijacker (as a spam-relay)?

With many organizations simply blocking the entire A- and B-class networks from China, even an always-connected server in China is not as hot a target as the one in US.

Also, one would expect, the machine owners' expected wealth to be a factor — some viruses blackmail the owner by threatening to delete their files... The poor Chinese may not even have a Paypal account to pay off the scumbags, so why go after them?

Accounting for all this may change the published statistics quite a bit...

Re:Always on Internet connections?.. (1)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957186)

When I worked at the University, you were hit within 30 seconds of plugging in an unpatched machine.

30 seconds.

Re:Always on Internet connections?.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958894)

When I worked at the University, you were hit within 30 seconds of plugging in an unpatched machine.

By an IT person who told you "Don't connect an unpatched computer to the network, moron", no doubt. Hopefully with a very large, heavy cluestick.

Re:Always on Internet connections?.. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957280)

I don't think botnet operators target their infections. It would cost them more to select their targets than to just put it everywhere, with the possible exception that they might try to avoid the equivalent of .mil or .mod.uk in their own country.

Re:Always on Internet connections?.. (3, Informative)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958508)

I just got done working on my grandparents machine. They only have dial up, with one phone line in the house. They connect, check their email via POP3, and disconnect. They had 336 viruses that I could find (many of them worms). I don't think connection times matter that much, especially since this was over a 56k modem only connected a few times a week for 10-20 minutes at a shot.

Broadband speed might be more of an issue (4, Insightful)

TheCow (191714) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957134)

I just recently returned from a trip to India and found that many of the cyber cafes and family homes that I visited were not running the latest service-packs for Windows. I would attribute that to mostly being because although they had "broadband" their speed even during off hours were more around the range of 64 to 128 Kbps with high latency due to over subscription. Can any of you imagine downloading Windows XP SP3 over that kind of connection? (Setup a speed limiter on your next bit torrent download at about 5 KBs/40 kbps and see how long that file takes to transfer) Along with the problem that most computers are purchased as cheaply as possible so they frequently run with the minimum amount of ram possible, making the use of Antivirus software and the latest Service packs way too slow to even browse the web.

Security patches and Anti-virus updates that are several megabytes a piece are fine for someone with a lowly 512 kbps broadband connection, but understand that most people in these countries like China and India still have very large modem and slow DSL that is extremely over subscribed at the ISP.

Even here in the US there are many people that have dial-up even if other options are available because they don't feel the broadband options provide a good cost/performance ratio. $40 for 512kbps WISP connection or $10 for a cheap dial-up connection. $480 + install for the first year, or $120 for a year of dial-up over a phone line they already have...

Please keep in mind that although 5+ Mbps broadband is available in most Metro markets there are still a lot of people that have much slower connections making many online services out of reach (Steam, hulu, and to some security patches).

Re:Broadband speed might be more of an issue (2, Interesting)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958520)

I just recently returned from a trip to India and found that many of the cyber cafes and family homes that I visited were not running the latest service-packs for Windows. I would attribute that to mostly being because although they had "broadband" their speed even during off hours were more around the range of 64 to 128 Kbps with high latency due to over subscription. Can any of you imagine downloading Windows XP SP3 over that kind of connection?

Yes. Download the file once, overnight. Proceed to install it on all machines. The full installation file download is a mere 316mb.

Re:Broadband speed might be more of an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958606)

I would attribute that to mostly being because although they had "broadband" their speed even during off hours were more around the range of 64 to 128 Kbps with high latency due to over subscription. Can any of you imagine downloading Windows XP SP3 over that kind of connection?

Yes, I'm an American who doesn't live in a big city. ):

Penance? (3, Funny)

xeromist (443780) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957140)

Perhaps these pirates just feel such extreme guilt for copying Windows that they are rejecting patches and virtually flogging themselves with malware.

MSRT (1)

ArbiterShadow (1222388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957164)

Wait a minute. They can hardly rely on data from the MSRT, given Microsoft's own assertion that users running pirated Windows don't use Windows Update.

Of course the infection rate as reported by the MSRT will be low, if it never gets run on the pirated (and therefore infected) machines.

Re:MSRT (1)

twoDigitIq (1352643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957368)

"China, for example, boasted a malware infection rate — as defined by the number of computers cleaned for each 1,000 executions of the MSRT — of just 6.7 per thousand, significantly below"

So yeah, they probably don't execute it much over there, but the metric seems to be sound. That said, in a country where you can probably find an unlicensed copy of Windows laying on the ground, the people that go to the trouble of getting a licensed copy probably aren't the type to visit porn sites and whatnot.

The solution... (3, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957170)

Williams said the link between PC infection rates and piracy is due to the hesitancy of users of pirated software to use Windows Update.

Make Windows free.

Re:The solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958002)

Williams said the link between PC infection rates and piracy is due to the hesitancy of users of pirated software to use Windows Update.

Make Windows free.

Which is what it used to be. Seriously, before Genuine Advantage it was no problem to "pirate" Windows. I don't think the big M would be half as big if it were not for years of free Windows.

Re:The solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959078)

Williams said the link between PC infection rates and piracy is due to the hesitancy of users of pirated software to use Windows Update.

Make Windows free.

Yeah, that's gonna happen.

Slanderous (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957178)

There is no reason for there to be any high level of virus spread amongst pirates. Simply because pirates are often trapped together on a boat with no women for perhaps weeks or months at a time shows nothing. Is Microsoft slandering the pirate community, hinting at homosexual rendezvous? I for one am offended and suggest we 'make im walk the plank, yarrr'

Liscensed but uneducated users really at fault (5, Insightful)

elvis15 (1375583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957180)

Obviously Microsoft doesn't want to acknowledge the large portion of their licensed users who set Windows to do their updates automatically but have never touched an antivirus or security software. I've worked in IT and with the Joe Public users and that was by far the biggest problem out there.

People would often call in with viruses/malware they've just been living with on a 2 year old computer, and when you asked them about what they use for antivirus, they wouldn't have a clue. "I used that link that was on my desktop when I bought it," they would say. Well, that 30 day trial will get you into more trouble than not applying your windows updates, especially when they're opening up all those emails from disposed Nigerian dictators.

Re:Liscensed but uneducated users really at fault (1)

Alok (37687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957702)

they're opening up all those emails from disposed Nigerian dictators.

The emails are usually from deposed dictators, though I agree that in some cases disposing of them may be a better solution ;)

Re:Liscensed but uneducated users really at fault (4, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958276)

I know a guy that has Nod32 antivirus installed.

Unfortunately for him, he doesn't seem to understand how to activate it. Every year he buys a new code, and loses it, without activating. It's now about 900 days since his subscription ended.

I took pitty and installed avast, but he doesn't know what the little A is, or even care, because he has Nod32 (which a friend recommended), and he thinks he's protected.

I agree that uneducated users are the issue.

Seems to be what microsoft wanted (4, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957214)

Microsoft said today that computers in countries with high rates of software piracy are more likely to be infected because users are leery of applying security patches.

When you purposely push out "security patches" that only disable copies of Windows that are pirated, then yes, they are leery of using them, and rightly so (Assuming their goal is to run Windows without paying, and not buying Windows or using another OS)

This is the exact situation Microsoft has stated they wanted to happen.

And before anyone starts, I am not suggesting Microsoft change their rules on supporting pirated copies of Windows.
It's theirs to choose how to support how they want.
Just that this is the only conclusion one could expect from their current choice.

Re:Seems to be what microsoft wanted (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957886)

And before anyone starts, I am not suggesting Microsoft change their rules on supporting pirated copies of Windows. It's theirs to choose how to support how they want.

But shouldn't they also be liable somehow for the collateral damage they're causing, when they give traction to the spammers and botnets?

Re:Seems to be what microsoft wanted (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957944)

But shouldn't they also be liable somehow for the collateral damage they're causing, when they give traction to the spammers and botnets?

Well, there is should, and there is could.

Should, probably so.

Could, no. Unfortunately providing the means indirectly to criminals to do their thing is not illegal.
For it to be illegal, one would have to convince a judge that Windows is used primarily for botnets and scammers, and much less so for anything else.

Re:Seems to be what microsoft wanted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958244)

But shouldn't they also be liable somehow for the collateral damage they're causing, when they give traction to the spammers and botnets?

Do you really expect Microsoft to be liable for the damage those people cause while those very same people haven't paid Microsoft a single cent for their illegal copy? In what kind of world are you living?

Re:Seems to be what microsoft wanted (4, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958510)

When you purposely push out "security patches" that only disable copies of Windows that are pirated, then yes, they are leery of using them, and rightly so

Don't forget the legit copies they disable. Any of those OEM keys that shady computer repair shops have gotten their hands on.

Microsoft also disabled my legit key. Apparently if you activate Windows on 4 different motherboards with 3 different CPUs, 4 different types of memory, 3 different GPUs, 6 different HDD setups, from 3 different IPs/ISPs, they find it suspicious and refuse to give you a new key.

Of course, what actually happened was my PSU blew up my old board. It wasn't good for overclocking, so I got a different one. Then the new PSU blew up the new board(bad luck - never going Antec again) and some memory. After getting it fixed, I sold my CPU and upgraded that and my GPU. I was running out of space, so I also got an HDD upgrade. Then later I moved most of them over to a NAS. Eventually I wanted to upgrade again, so I gave a family member my old PC(after wiping Windows and installing Ubuntu, *gasp*) and tried to reactivate again on a new board with a new CPU + GPU + RAM + more HDDs.

Microsoft found it suspicious - too suspicious - and yet I'm in the right, because my XP key was only in use on a single machine. I believe a contributing factor was the ISP switching, and my IP geolocation resolving incorrectly. For a while it resolved to Ontario, then Alberta, then BC. Originally I could even watch Hulu (and I'm Canadian), so I know the geolocation software failed pretty badly.

Right now I'm using XP, but it's not the license key I originally bought. There's no way I'm letting a company force me to pay twice! Everyone I know buys a single license and uses it on every computer in their home, but here I am doing it the right way, and they screw me! Never again!

there data doesn't support their own theory but.. (1)

BitwiseX (300405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957216)

I think that's a valid point. To be fair, a more "intelligent" pirate would try to keep up to date manually or with an external application (AutoPatcher comes to mind but I believe it's dead). The "torrent kiddiez" probably aren't going to bother. The "computer smart" grandkid who throws together a PC so Gramps and Gran-Gran can send email to the family isn't going to bother showing them how to do updates.

I can buy that... but don't report on something that you yourself can FIX Microsoft! I'd like to see a report from Microsoft on how many copies of XP were sold because of WGA nag screens. I would bet it's a fairly low percentage. (If anybody can find it please share it, i'm too lazy to look right now) Getting rid of WGA would be a good start. It may be hard to work through the fear of Windows Update that users of a pirated copy of Windows have, but it's a start.

Apparently those few XP sales generated by WGA are more important than their own reputation as the Kings of Malware.

Legit, but still leery (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957220)

Count me as one of those leery afraid to apply patches because there's never any indication in the update applet about whether they'll force a reboot or not.

So I can ignore useless (for me) "malicious software removal tool" patches and play it safe, or I can apply a patch and hope that I don't have to manually stop the Windows Updates service to prevent an undesired reboot.

Guess which one I pick?

(Posted from a legit win7 licensed box that gets rebooted when storms knock out my power..)

Correlation is not causation (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957252)

but lets give MS the benefit of the doubt. After all, haven't they earned our trust? I'll take them at their word that stealing windows = malware. Fortunately, I don't have to steal windows anymore, a guy from nigeria says I'll be rich soon.

mod do38 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957370)

series o7 explodi8g Members all over

Arrrr I be lucky! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29957420)

I guess Im a lucky pirate then I have been running copies of 7 and Vista that generate their own OEM serial numbers.

couldn't you legally force them to... (1, Redundant)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957492)

couldn't you legally force them to give updates to pirated copies? I mean leaving it like this puts other people at risk! thats like a (CAR ANALOGY FTW!!!) car manufacturer who goes and cuts stolen cars' breaks!

What!?!? (2, Insightful)

sourICE (1480471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957544)

China's piracy rate is more than four times that of the US, but the use of Windows Update in China is significantly below that in this country. Same for Brazil and France. But Microsoft's own data doesn't always support William's contention that piracy, and the hesitancy to use Windows Update, leads to more infected PCs. China, for example, boasted a malware infection rate -- as defined by the number of computers cleaned for each 1,000 executions of the MSRT -- of just 6.7 per thousand, significantly below the global average of 8.7 or the US's rate of 8.2. France's infection rate of 7.9 in the first half of 2009 was also below the worldwide average."

How can Microsoft possibly conclude that Malware is a greater threat to pirated PCs from the previously quoted data? Obviously the US has a higher infection rate than China, with the US being at 8.2 per thousand and China only at 6.7.

If it were me analyzing the data I'm afraid I would have to conclude that users who use windows update more often and use official copies of windows(US users) are more likely to receive a malware infection than users on pirated copies without using windows update(China).

I guess I deserve a job at Microsoft if I'm able to better comprehend the statistics than they are, assuming the numbers from this article are even true.

Re:What!?!? (2, Informative)

harryjohnston (1118069) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958120)

If it were me analyzing the data I'm afraid I would have to conclude that users who use windows update more often and use official copies of windows(US users) are more likely to receive a malware infection than users on pirated copies without using windows update(China).

Except that those who don't use Windows Update aren't included in the statistics. (Well, unless they manually download and run the MSRT, but that can't be a statistically significant number.)

should it be like giving clean needles to junkies? (2, Insightful)

shoor (33382) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957564)

First, I'm not even a user of Microsoft stuff (see my sig), and I'm not posting because I think I know what Microsoft should do. This is not a rhetorical question on my part, but just a plain question. As I understand it, when a machine is infected it makes trouble for everybody (becomes part of an army of botnets or whatever). So, helping pirates who, except for pirating Microsoft Software are pretty much minding their own business, to keep their machines virus free would help everybody wouldn't it? They try to give junkies clean needles not to help them be junkies, but to try to prevent the spread of disease. Have I got that right? If I do, then, isn't it a similar situation with Microsoft?

Re:should it be like giving clean needles to junki (3, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957674)

Microsoft has a financial incentive to make people fear running unauthorized copies of Windows.

Re:should it be like giving clean needles to junki (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958558)

Maybe I'm just tired and sleepy - but your post makes me think that if Gate's daddy had used a dirty needle and a condom, we wouldn't be so worried about getting Bill's viruses today. Hmmmm. I'll sleep on that idea......

Re:should it be like giving clean needles to junki (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959018)

You are absolutely correct if the goal is the public good.

Corporations, on the other hand, are not about the public good.

t would be nice if Microsoft cared, but Microsoft is a corporation. A publicly traded corporation, no less; publicly traded corporations are required, by law, to be self-serving and to maximize profit over other considerations. If they don't, they can be sued by shareholders for not doing it.

So, nice as it would be, unless you can come up with a way to convince Microsoft to convince Microsoft shareholders that the goodwill would turn into profits that exceed the profit available with the current, selfish strategy, I think it's not so likely to happen.

Could the China anomaly have anything to do with.. (3, Interesting)

beatsme (1472991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957610)

The fact that there's a "Great (Fire)Wall" separating the Chinese from the rest of the internet? Chinese culture being less individualistic may simply not produce as much malware, and since most citizens are restricted to their own countrymen, there's a bias. That such a sampling bias exists should disqualify it from being included among the other countries, or at least warrant further research before lumping it in there.

This is rubbish! (0)

Helldesk Hound (981604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958096)

If Microsoft can demonstrate a causal link between known pirated copies of it's flawed insecure OS, then why can't MS prosecute those pirates?

If I can't prove that any particular infected copy was pirated then it's merely spouting rubbish to defend the poor security of it's software.

Redefine Malware to include windows keygen (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958194)

Problem solved. Link proven. That's what passes for innovation at Redmond these days.

Okay (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958444)

I have an allergy to B.S. This sounds, at best, very suspect. You don't need a Windows computer to write viruses for Windows. You can compile binaries intended for Win32 on a Linux or BSD machine. Heck, you could even use PHP, PERL, or other to take advantage of a security hole in Windows.

Micro$trategy (0, Troll)

hallux.sinister (1633067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958502)

Could it be all this time we thought Micro$oft was incapable of shipping a bug-free, secure operating system, it wasn't ineptitude, or planned obsolescence as a tool to make folks upgrade like Skinner's pigeons every time a new version came out, but a device for fighting piracy?

.

Bill: We make it so complex and insecure that we'll constantly have to patch, leaving anyone who doesn't have a legitimate copy in the cold!

Steve: Great idea, boss!)

It would explain a lot which otherwise makes almost no sense. ~Hal

Why all of the MS bashing for this (0, Flamebait)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958672)

Pirating software is, wait for it, WRONG! Whether it is illegal or not, it is wrong. The argument that it is Microsoft's fault for the malware due to them trying to protect their products is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. That mentality is the same as a burglar suing a homeowner if they hurt themselves while robbing a home. Or blaming the owner of a car for an accident caused by someone stealing the car. It is not Microsoft's responsibility to ensure that software works perfectly whether it is pirated or not. Blame the pirates, not Microsoft.

Let other people beta test patches first (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958706)

When I pick up clients I make sure their "licensing"[sic] is brought into compliance. It's amazing how many PCs are in small-to-medium-size businesses where IT folk install "pirated" ("Yar! yo ho ho and a bottle of rum") corporate editions. I bring them into compliance but I use policies and now WSUS to restrict patches for days to weeks after release to learn of reports of patches breaking systems. They're always behind firewall appliances and running some sort of antivirus and anti-malware software. Why I am I so wary? I've seen many instances where Microsoft patches have broken software, ranging from being able to mount Microsoft Exchange info stores to rendering Windows itself unbootable. For clients on the go (notebooks, etc) I'll tell them sure, go ahead and update when prompted, keeping in mind that the patches haven't been proven in the field yet.

It's not just counterfeit license users who avoid patching; many delay patching until the updates have been proven "safe," or if the IT budget allows (it rarely does), testing them in a staging environment.

The best practice is to set up a WSUS server and push the updates out from your own servers, controlling when and where the updates get rolled out to client workstations (and other member servers). The sad thing is that almost no businesses value best practices until having experienced at least one catastrophic failure. Heck, getting smaller companies to accept even a reasonable backup regimen is like pulling teeth.

Uh, some pirated copies will pass WGA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959110)

There's really no excuse for you copyright violators to become bots as well.

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