The dangers of downloading and installing counterfeit programmes are already well documented, although a recent study by research firm IDC has shed new light on the extent of the risk taken by those who opt for pirated software over legitimate versions.
According to the new study, entitled The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software, some 36 per cent of web and P2P pirate sources lead users to encounters with malware.
It is estimated that the total cost of correcting the damage done by malicious software obtained by downloading pirated software could be as high as £95 billion across the world in 2013 alone.
Criminals are now increasingly inserting viruses and Trojans into software that is then made available on rogue websites, with alarming numbers of businesses and individuals continuing to fall into the trap of downloading these programmes.
Aside from the considerable financial cost of fixing the problems caused by malware, the study also estimates that customers spend around 1.5 billion hours a year trying to identify and repair the damage.