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Could Your Small Business Unintentionally Be Using Pirated Software : Small Business I.T. News : Software for Small Business : Chicago's and Illinois' Small Business Computer Consultants : Responsive Network Services LLC
A `purposefully` blurred Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity.  Make sure that your software has an appropriate COA before it is installed on your small business` computer systems.
Could Your Small Business Unintentionally Be Using Pirated Software

Protect your small business from virus and spyware threats in counterfeit software

by Jennifer Hunt

6/10/2010

Pirated software is counterfeit software that cybercriminals illegally copy and sell. They sell it to unsuspecting individuals on the Internet, at some low-price retail outlets, and occasionally on the street.

Pirated software can put your computer and your personal data at risk

Pirated software is dangerous, as it often contains viruses, spyware, and scams that can cause a loss of data, a corrupted system, and even identity theft. Only computers with genuine Microsoft software can receive critical security updates, as well as all other software updates.

Genuine software provides access to security updates and products

Microsoft asks that you validate your copy of Windows in order to receive product and security updates.

Microsoft offers the following the genuine copies of its software:

Microsoft Security Essentials: Free software that helps protect your computer from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Internet Explorer 8: The newest version of the Microsoft web browser helps protect against phishing scams and other fraud that can lead to identity theft.

Validating your Microsoft Products

By validating your software at the genuine Microsoft website, you will be able to receive all proper updates, download future software purchases with ease, and it only takes a few minutes.

Identifying Genuine Software

One way you can usually identify genuine Microsoft software is by locating the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label. This is not a software license, but an identifier where you can determine if your product is genuine. Without it you will not have a legal license to run Microsoft software.

A typical COA is shown in the accompanying photograph.

How can You Tell the Difference?

Pirated software looks authentic and is often distributed in packaging similar to the original manufacturer's packaging.

You can see several examples of counterfeit software in the Counterfeit Microsoft Software Gallery.
 

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