Anti-piracy lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has more than doubled the number of 'take down' notices it issues to stop the distribution of pirated software.
The BSA uses its own systems to track the sale of illegal software on auction sites and its distribution through peer to peer (P2P) file sharing.
"In the first half of 2009, BSA stepped up its efforts in this area and issued almost 2.4 million takedown notices related to P2P and BitTorrent file sharing, an increase of more than 200% over the same period in 2008," the BSA said in a report entitled 'Software Piracy on the Internet: A Threat To Your Security'.
The body has also requested the removal of 103,000 torrent files, which help the process of downloading from P2P networks. This was also more than double the level of activity for the same period in 2008.
The BSA said that internet auction sites are another major distribution channel for pirated software. It said that it had made formal complaints about 19,000 auctions in the first half of this year.
The report said that the BSA believes that software piracy is related to the distribution of viruses and malicious software, called malware, though it admitted that no actual measurement of such a correlation has been made.
"Globally, there is significant evidence to link software piracy with the frequency of malware attacks. While this correlation has not been measured with precision, the evidence from industry sources suggests that markets with high software piracy rates also have a tendency to experience high rates of malware infection," said its report.
The report said that users of pirated software are vulnerable to malware because they do not have access to updates or 'patches' to software which block the ways in which viruses exploit the operation of common software products.
The BSA has also said that 41% of all software on personal computers is obtained illegally, and that the software used without publishers' permission would cost $53 billion to buy. It said that this figure emerged in research conducted for it by IDC which was published earlier this year.
"Software piracy, far from being an innocent, victimless crime, exposes users to unacceptable levels of cyber-security risk, including the threat of costly identity theft or allowing one’s computer to become a tool in further criminal activity," said its report.
The report can be read here (pdf).
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