The Microsoft-commissioned study found global consumers spend billions fighting viruses and malware caused by pirated software, with one in three consumers and one in 10 businesses affected.
An informal survey run by Microsoft found South Africa, though not included in the IDC survey, was seriously affected, with almost a third of respondents having unknowingly installed pirated software and been forced to fix the resultant issues.
“This is costing businesses time and money to fix problems relating to pirated software – time and money which could have been spent on growing small businesses, employing employees and adding to the economy,” said Mteto Nyati, managing director at Microsoft South Africa.
HumanIPO reported last week BSA showed unlicenced software cost South African businesses more than ZAR5.7 million (US$676,000) in 2012, a six-fold increase from the previous year.
The BSA said the figure had increased from ZAR4.9 million (US$551,000) in 2011 as more companies were caught using pirated software.
“Companies throughout South Africa continue to act negligently when it comes to software licensing,” the BSA said in a press statement. Engineering, graphics and advertising firms are the biggest offenders.
The IDC report estimated, globally, consumers spend 1.5 billion hours and US$22 billion fixing such problems, with the cost to businesses around US$114 billion.
The IDC said: “Inherent dangers lurk for consumers and businesses that take a chance on counterfeit software. Some people choose counterfeit to save money, but this ‘ride-along’ malware ends up putting a financial and emotional strain on both the enterprise and casual computer users alike.”