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Computer users in the Asean region still have some of the highest rates of unlicensed software usage, despite awareness of the associated cybersecurity dangers, according to findings from the 2016 Global Software Survey from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The study revealed that 69% of the software installed in the Asean countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in 2015 are not properly licensed, according to the joint report with analyst firm IDC. This adds up to a commercial value of US$3.6bn and represents a mere 1% decrease from BSA’s previous study in 2013.
In contrast, 39% of software installed on computers around the world in 2015 is not properly licensed. Besides the Asean cluster of countries, the larger Asia-Pacific region had the highest overall rate of unlicensed software at 61%, a one-point decline compared with the previous survey in 2013, with the commercial value of unlicensed software use in 2015 valued at US$19.1bn.
“Whilst there has been an improvement in the use of unlicensed software from two years ago, the rate is still too high, especially for the emerging countries in the Asia-Pacific,” said Tarun Sawney, senior director, Asia-Pacific, BSA.
Indonesia accounts for a third of all PCs sold in the Asean region, and had the highest rates of unlicensed software usage at 84%, showing no change from 2013. The Asean countries with the lowest rates of unlicensed software usage were Singapore (30%) and Malaysia (53%). The other Asean countries have high rates of unlicensed software usage and include Brunei (66%), Philippines (67%), Thailand (69%) and Vietnam (78%).
Read more about unlicensed software
- While piracy rates are declining, unauthorised software poses a big security risk, says the Business Software Alliance.
- BSA found that workers quizzed about whether or not they felt their workplace harboured illegal software were more likely to say "yes" if they worked in IT.
- Project Options has been fined £16,000 by the Business Software Alliance, following an online tip-off.
The report found the use of unlicensed software is on a downward trend. The key drivers include enforcement measures and the use of different software pricing models where pay-per-use software has helped to legalise software on the home PCs.
“It is the small and medium-sized businesses [SMBs] and consumers who use a higher proportion of unlicensed software,” said Victor Lim, vice-president, consulting operations, IDC Asia-Pacific. “They are willing to take the risk of a security breach to save on software costs, whereas larger organisations may be less willing to risk their brand and reputation.”
Lim acknowledged that unlicensed and underlicensed software is a significant issue in the Asia-Pacific region that can be addressed by high levels of regulation and enforcement.
“Singapore’s high degree of regulation, enforcement and willingness by the authorities to address these issues has helped to change behaviour,” said Lim. This has resulted in Singapore having one of the lowest levels of unlicensed software usage within the Asean region.
Microsoft unleashes hordes of IP lawyers
To discourage the use of unlicensed software, supplier Microsoft has a team of lawyers, investigators, technical analysts and specialists who work to reduce physical counterfeit software sales and online piracy, and removes some two million infringing online links per month.
“Our awareness and education sensitisation programs, engineering innovations, cyber forensics big-data analytics, software asset management practices, and partnerships with law enforcement, governments and industry have helped to bring urgency around having a licensed IT software environment,” said Keshav S Dhakad, regional director, intellectual property & digital crimes unit (DCU) at Microsoft Asia