Microsoft warns consumers against unintentionally buying counterfeit software

Consumers and small businesses in Singapore should beware of unintentionally purchasing and using counterfeit software, electronics giant Microsoft said in an advisory on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
Consumers and small businesses in Singapore should beware of unintentionally purchasing and using counterfeit software, electronics giant Microsoft said in an advisory on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Consumers and small businesses in Singapore should beware of unintentionally purchasing and using counterfeit software, electronics giant Microsoft said in an advisory on Tuesday.

This comes after the Intellectual Property Rights Branch of the Singapore Police Force raided a computer vendor in Kembangan Plaza on Monday and seized some $80,000 of goods, Microsoft said. Several raids have been conducted in recent months.

In Monday's raid, the authorities seized 43 laptops installed with suspected counterfeit copies of Windows 7 Pro and Office Enterprise 2007 with fake authenticity certification.

Microsoft had been alerted to the situation by a vendor whose customer demanded a refund of a genuine software copy because he claimed the same software was being sold for a lower price by the raided vendor.

"(Counterfeit) software could expose computers to spyware, malware and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of personal data, and unexpected system failures," said Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit's corporate attorney Jonathan Selvasegaram in the statement.

"This has dangerous repercussions, especially for businesses where operational disruptions caused by malware and viruses could potentially lead to heavy financial losses for them," he added.

Honest computer vendors are also disadvantaged because dealers offering counterfeit software can charge lower prices.

Mr Roland Chan, senior director for compliance programmes in Asia Pacific at BSA|The Software Alliance, also said in the statement: "Most people do not know what is installed on their systems, and that needs to change... Consumers and businesses should actively take steps to prevent the potential risks at hand and to protect themselves from unwanted exposure to potential loss of privacy and data."

To find out how to verify the origin of Microsoft products, consumers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/howtotell/default.aspx.