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64% of the country’s corporations use illegal software – BSA

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More than half of corporations in the Philippines still use unlicensed software in their business operations.

This is according to the latest BSA Global Software Survey in 2018, which noted that an estimated 64% of the country’s corporations use illegal software, putting data at risk nationwide and creating significant gaps in the Philippines’ cyber security defenses.

The rate is still far behind ASEAN countries like Singapore and Malaysia where the use of unlicensed software is 27% and 51% respectively.

For the BSA, this means that business executives, such as Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), should step up to fully support legalization of corporate software.

The solution includes intensified enforcement of the IP Code of the Philippines (RA 8293) and Optical Media Act (RA 9239) to ensure that corporations stop using illegal software in their business operations. Examples of intensified enforcement includes conducting raids of companies using illegal software with greater frequency on a nationwide scale.

At the same time, the solution must also include a hands-on effort from CEOs and C-suite leadership at self-policing corporate use of software. Corporate leadership who self-police their software assets protect their clients’ data, safeguard corporate digital assets, and protect their reputation and financial wellbeing.

“The fact is that the Optical Media Board (OMB) is doing a great job of inspecting and raiding corporations for use of illegal software, and we hope they build on this effort to legalize even more companies to help ensure that the public’s data remain safe,” said BSA senior director Tarun Sawney. “But CEOs in the Philippines need to do better. CEOs need to proactively ensure that their companies are compliant. Also, as CEOs are self-policing their corporations, this will protect their data from malware and hackers, leading to improved productivity and efficient management.”

According to BSA, OMB is a leader in Asia Pacific for helping to create a legal and safe cyber environment.

“In terms of activity levels, the software industry highly appreciates OMB,” said Sawney. “But what we would like to see improve is the activity levels of CEOs in the Philippines to make sure their corporations are 100 percent legal in terms of their software use. Unfortunately, today, we know that this is not the case. And I should say that we do not believe CEOs are out to violate the law. Instead we believe that most CEOs simply are not managing the copyrights of their software assets closely enough.”

While corporations in the Philippines realize the importance of good governance and risk management, they too often forget to consider this from an information technology (IT) perspective. The result is that the public’s data privacy is at risk as malware attacks, enabled by unlicensed software, allows bad actors to steal customer’s data from companies.

To be fully compliant with the Philippine laws, BSA suggests the following approach for CEOs and their C-suite colleagues.

First, corporations should have policy to direct all software purchases through a central purchasing or information technology department. By doing this, CEOs can ensure that all the software in corporations is licensed and from the authorized software reseller.

Second, CEOs should assign all managers to educate all employees about software license compliance.

Third, CEOs should ensure that their corporation organizes annual self-audits of software, including unauthorized devices which may only be connected to the network periodically such as laptops and tablets. Moreover, corporations may consider requiring administrative permission to install software. This is the most secure way to ensure that no employee other than a member of the information technology department or central purchasing can install software on a company computer.

Lastly, CEOs should ensure that their corporate IT managers attend training on software license management.

Addressing the use of unlicensed software inside businesses requires a hands-on approach by corporations, and this starts with clear communication from the very top about the importance of making use of legal software a priority.