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Unlicensed software a cyberthreat

Hardy Graupner
June 5, 2018

A leading software industry association has warned that the use of unlicensed software increases the likelihood of cyberattacks by a third. Pirated software is particularly hard to combat in emerging countries.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Marchi

Businesses should assess the software on their networks and eliminate unlicensed copies to reduce the risk of cyberattacks, researchers from the US-based The Software Alliance (BSA) said in a study on Tuesday.

The advocate for the global software industry noted in its 2018 Global Software Survey that too often, companies' efforts to improve their businesses were "hampered by the widespread use of unlicensed software and the often-crippling security threats" that accompanied it.

The survey quantified the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in more than 110 nations and regions and included nearly 23,000 responses from consumers, employees and chief information officers (CIOs).

Slow progress

"Organizations around the world are missing out on the economic and security benefits that well-managed software provides," the BSA survey said.

"Businesses should establish software asset management (SAM) programs to evaluate the software on their network, which in turn reduces the risk of debilitating cyberattacks and helps grow their revenues."

The study showed that the use of unlicensed software was only down slightly in 2017 (-2 percent), still accounting for 37 percent of software installed on PCs.

Firms incur huge costs

The survey showed that unlicensed software was spread most widely in a number of emerging economies. In Libya, an estimated 90 percent of all software installed on PCs in 2017 was pirated (Venezuela: 89 percent; Nicaragua: 81 percent).

The study calculated that malware from pirated software cost companies worldwide some $359 billion (€307 billion).

BSA researchers concluded that companies "can take meaningful steps today to improve software management and to achieve as much as 30 percent savings in annual software costs by implementing a robust SAM and software license optimization program."

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