More than one third of software used by businesses globally is pirated, according to new figures. A survey by the Business Software Alliance found that the use of illegal software is holding steady in the US (22 per cent) and Western Europe (36 per cent), but is seeing marked downturns in China and Russia. Piracy rates in China have declined from 92 per cent to 82 per cent in three years, while Russia has seen a drop of seven per cent during the same period.

Perhaps surprisingly, the UK was highlighted as one of the places where a hard core of companies, 27 per cent, were still using unlicensed software, according to the report.

Illegal software represents a serious security risk, as patching is often impossible, leaving well-known vulnerabilities open to abuse. Much of the most frequently detected malware exploits old vulnerabilities that patching would fix.