Concerns about security and loss of data are more of a deterrent to the use of unlicensed software than the actual legal issues involved, new research from industry organisation The Software Alliance (BSA) has found.
The organisation's June 2014 BSA Global Software Study, which was conducted with IDC among 24,000 respondents – including 22,000 users and 2,000 IT managers across 110 countries – found that 64 per cent of users cited unauthorised access to their systems by hackers as the main reason they didn't use unlicensed software
Some 62 per cent of IT managers said security threats from malware were the main reason not to use unlicensed applications, while 59 per cent of respondents cited the potential loss of data as primary reasons for not using unlicensed software.
“Businesses and consumers should be mindful of potential financial and security risks they are taking if they have unlicensed software installed on their computers,” said BSA Australia Committee chair Clayton Noble. “This study shows that there is much work to be done and serves as a reminder of the importance of using properly licensed software.”
The survey identified a distinct lack of formal policies mandating the use of licensed software, with just 35 per cent of companies having written policies requiring them to use properly licensed software. Some 51 per cent of IT managers said their policy on software usage was informal rather than written, compared with 32 per cent of workers.
Fully 42 per cent of users said they didn't know whether there was a policy on use of unlicensed software, compared with just 14 per cent of IT managers – suggesting an education gap that needed to be addressed.
Although the Asia-Pacific region had the highest overall rate of unlicensed software installations – 62 per cent overall – Australia was among the lowest, with a share of 21 percent reflecting a decline from 2011 (23 per cent), 2009 (25 per cent) and 2007 (28 per cent).
This was lower than the rate in Singapore (32 per cent), Malaysia (54 per cent), Hong Kong (43 per cent), Canada (25 per cent), and the UK (24 per cent) but lower than the US (18 per cent) and Japan (19 per cent).
BSA continues to work to improve these rates, with formal programs available to help audit and ensure license compliance. “There are basic steps any company can take to ensure it is fully compliant,” Noble said, “like establishing a formal policy on licensed software use and maintaining careful records.”
“Companies should also implement robust software asset management [SAM] programs that follow internationally accepted guidelines, including regular reviews of software licenses and deployments. These SAM programs will ensure adequate controls are in place and provide a full view into what is installed on a network. This helps organisations to avoid security and operational risks, and will ensure they have the right number of licenses for their users.”
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