A recent investigation undertaken by Microsoft New Zealand has identified six Auckland computer stores selling pirated software to consumers.
Microsoft’s investigators bought computers loaded with unlicensed Microsoft software at:
• IT Serve International
• Comtech International
• D&J IT Solutions
• Computer Xpress
• R.A.Y Tech
• Powernet Computers.
All six stores admitted breaching Microsoft’s copyright, and settlements were reached with each company.
"It tends to be the smaller, local computer stores that are the ones selling unauthorised software in New Zealand," says Clayton Noble, Legal Counsel for Microsoft.
"We don't put these people out of business, but it's important that we stop them selling the unauthorised software, which can often be full of malware that is capable of compromising computer security and even facilitating identity theft. Some strains of counterfeit software products contain hidden key-logging software that allows criminals to steal passwords, bank account details and other personal information."
Some pirated software is also unable to receive and install important security updates, which increases exposure to viruses.
The six stores paid a combined $34,000 in settlements for copyright infringement.
According to a recent Business Software Alliance (BSA) report, 22 percent of New Zealand software is unauthorised, the fourth lowest piracy rate in the world.
"New Zealand's strong respect for intellectual property, its robust legal system and general awareness of the benefits of using genuine, licensed software mean that New Zealand has one of the lowest software piracy rates in the world," says Noble.
“But we’ve still got a long way to go. More than 1 in 5 copies of software in New Zealand are pirated. It would be great to see New Zealand leading the world in this area.”
Last month Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit exposed an emerging tactic of cybercriminals – infiltrating unsecured supply chains to embed malware before a new computer even gets to the retail store.
"Unsecure supply chains are one of the key ways cybercriminals are getting malware to unsuspecting victims, so buying from a reputable retailer that has a secure supply chain is one of the best ways to ensure the authenticity of your computer's software," says Noble.
"It's great to see Microsoft taking the necessary steps to discourage the distribution of pirated software, and educating consumers on the dangers of using unlicensed software," says Darren Smith, General Manager of PB Technologies, a Microsoft reseller.
“Retailers selling unauthorised software are trying to undercut those of us who are doing the right thing by our customers. It’s just not fair business practice."
"Retailers that use reputable suppliers will be the winners in the end, as consumers become more aware of the risks associated with unsecured supply chains and unauthorised software, and will stick to trusted outlets," adds Smith.