Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) chairman Geoff Webster has used the revelation that UK police forces are using illegal software as proof that it is easy to fool organisations into buying counterfeit products.
The illegal software, falsely labelled Microsoft, has been used by Special Branch officers in Britain’s 55 forces over the last year, admitted a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
Webster told MicroScope: “The problem with counterfeit software is sometimes it is so good, and it is sold pretty much at the price you would expect, so it leaves you unsuspecting.
“It is essentially the same as buying a stolen car. If you buy software, believing it to be legitimate, and you find out after parting with your money that it is not, you are stuck with having to buy another set of the same software and that is a very expensive and painful lesson.”
The software, purchased on the recommendation of Hampshire Police, was traced back to a Hampshire company called Protocol Solutions. Four men — including a former superintendent from the Hampshire force — were arrested after the discovery. It is expected to cost up to £5m of taxpayers money to replace the software.
Webster added: “The most simple and effective way to protect yourself is to check if your supplier is accredited and to make sure after-sales technical support is available.”