BSA warns of malware risk from unlicensed software

While piracy rates are declining, unauthorised software poses a big security risk, says the Business Software Alliance

Software piracy has reduced from 27% in 2009 to 22% in 2015, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The increasing market for cloud subscriptions and adoption of software asset management (SAM) played a part in the drop in the use of unlicensed software in the UK, the BSA said.

BSA said years of education and enforcement and an increased awareness of the importance of proper software asset management contributed to a modest decrease in unlicensed software globally, from 43% to 39%.

“Companies in the UK are continuing to put themselves at risk, despite the dangers of using unlicensed software,” said BSA president and CEO Victoria Espinel.

“Although it’s positive to see a general decline over the past five years, the use of unlicensed software in the UK remains higher than we’d like, especially given its significant commercial value.”

The BSA said too many CIOs are not controlling their networks and significantly underestimate how much unauthorised software has been deployed.

Among the CIOs surveyed, it  was estimated that 15% of their employees download software onto the company network without their knowledge. In reality, over a quarter of employees (26%) admit to installing unauthorised software on company networks.

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According to the BSA, there is a strong correlation between unlicensed software and malware. Malware attacks can leave businesses and consumers open to devastating and costly cyber attacks. In 2015 alone, such attacks cost businesses more than $400bn, according to the BSA’s research.

An analysis done as part of BSA’s Global Software Survey 2016 found that the higher the rate of unlicensed PC software, the higher the likelihood that users will experience potentially debilitating malware.

Regression analysis of the survey results showed a very strong positive correlation between malware and unlicensed software, the BSA said. It calculated a correlation coefficient of 0.78, where 1.0 is a perfect correlation, suggesting that there is indeed a strong link between malware and unlicensed software.

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