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Unlicensed software a security risk: BSA research

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Unlicensed software raises the risk of cyber attacks, according to new research by BSA | The Software Alliance.

The 2018 Global Software Survey found that in Australia, 18% of software installed on computers was not properly licensed. In New Zealand, that number dropped to 16%. In both instances, this represents a two-point decrease compared with BSA’s prior study, released in 2016.

This rate of use has been influenced in part by important trends underway in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, the drop of consumer share of shipments and use of cloud in the enterprises aided in bringing the unlicensed rate down. Additionally, the ‘consumer effect’ helped drive New Zealand’s already low unlicensed rate down even further. What also helped bring the rate down was the growth of software subscription services and a decline in the self-built PC market in New Zealand.

Around the world, organisations use software to improve the way they do business, increase profits, reach new markets and gain competitive advantages. But, as CIOs reported and as analysis detailed in the survey confirms, if the software is unlicensed, organisations run a significant risk of encountering often-crippling security threats.

To better understand the implications of using unlicensed software, BSA released the 2018 Global Software Survey: Software Management: Security Imperative, Business Opportunity. The survey quantifies the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in more than 110 countries and regions, and includes nearly 23,000 responses from consumers, employees and CIOs.

“Organisations around the world are missing out on the economic and security benefits that well-managed software provides,” said Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance.

“Businesses should establish software asset management (SAM) programs to evaluate and manage the software on their networks. This, in turn, helps organisations reduce the risk of debilitating cyber attacks and helps grow their revenues.”

The survey’s key findings include:

– Use of unlicensed software, while down slightly, is still widespread. Unlicensed software is still used around the globe at alarming rates, accounting for 37% of software installed on personal computers — only a 2% drop from 2016.
– CIOs report unlicensed software is increasingly risky and expensive. Malware from unlicensed software costs companies worldwide nearly $359 billion a year. CIOs report that avoiding data hacks and other security threats from malware is the number one reason for ensuring their networks are fully licensed.
– Improving software compliance is now an economic enabler in addition to a security imperative. When companies take pragmatic steps to enhance their software management, they can increase profits by as much as 11%.
– Organisations can take meaningful steps today to improve software management. Studies show that organisations can achieve as much as 30% savings in annual software costs by implementing a robust SAM and software licence optimisation program.

Through in-depth analysis, the survey shows companies can implement strong measures, including SAM programs, to improve the way they manage software, thereby increasing profits, decreasing security risks and growing opportunity