Feeds

Microsoft, Feds, and Chinese authorities seize $2bn in pirated software

25 arrested

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Pirated Microsoft software, estimated by the firm to be worth more than $2bn, has been seized by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Chinese police following a long-running joint operation which began in 2005.

A network of Chinese pirating syndicates, believed to be the largest of its kind in history, had been making and flogging counterfeit software in the US, the UK, and around the world.

The FBI and China's Public Security Bureau (PSB) confirmed today that following several raids in the southern China province of Guangdong, 25 arrests had been made.

Microsoft said it played a key role in the investigation, with partners and customers turning in more than 55,000 "sophisticated copies" of software to the firm.

The seized products included high-quality copies of Microsoft's latest operating system, Vista.

Although the OS features a new "reduce functionality mode" which is intended to prevent pirates from fingering the product, Vista's inclusion in the syndicate's bounty could ruffle some feathers at Microsoft.

Microsoft's UK anti-piracy head Michala Alexander told The Register the Chinese counterfeit ring had attempted to hack into the 30-day failsafe technology which determines whether the software's key is genuine or illegal.

She said resellers in the UK had been selling pirate copies and explained that while it was "difficult to tell the difference", firms were "putting their businesses at risk" by using the unauthorised software.

"From a reseller perspective they know what to do," said Alexander, who also told us "the UK economy is suffering because of it".

According to Reuters, the FBI estimated that the pirated software it had seized had a retail value of $500m, a figure significantly lower than that claimed by Microsoft.

Microsoft said although the 55,000 seized copies would put a sizeable dent in the criminal activity surrounding its products, it represented less than one per cent of counterfeit copies of its software being sold around the world.

Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, said: "This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy - governments, law enforcement agencies, and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring.

"This case should serve as a wake-up call to counterfeiters. Customers around the world are turning you in, governments and law enforcement have had enough, and private companies will act decisively to protect intellectual property." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
SHELLSHOCKED: Fortune 1000 outfits Bash out batches of patches
CloudPassage points to 'pervasive' threat of Bash bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.