When making purchasing decisions about business software it may be tempting to simply go with a cheap provider or buy online from an unknown source. The biggest myth about pirated software is that it’s cheap and doesn’t harm anyone. The truth is, everybody pays – and the price can be high:
- In the UK, 24% of installed business software is used unlawfully.*
- There is a strong correlation between unlicensed software and malware*
- One in three copied software packages has malware in it*.
*Source: The Federation Against Software Theft
Offline or online, software piracy is a crime. Microsoft has invested substantially in tracking down individuals and businesses that seek to gain an unfair advantage by selling unlicensed or counterfeit software.
Software piracy is the illegal reproduction and distribution of software applications. Because of counterfeit and unlicensed software, legitimate businesses are not only losing selling opportunities; they’re missing out on ongoing revenues and the chance to add value through dedicated customer support.
SME business depends on a solid reputation for delivering reliable products and services. Illegal software copying and distribution tarnishes the reputation of all software resellers and puts users at risk from inferior quality, and potentially dangerous software being out on the market.
Some of the risks of using unlicensed software
- Financial Exposure – regardless as to whether your under-licensing situation has arisen because of intentional corner cutting when it comes to price, poorly managed environments where there is very limited control or where you have honestly just over installed an application unknowingly…if you are approached for an audit by a software manufacturer (or an industry body such as FAST on their behalf), you will be expected to settle up any unlicensed/counterfeit installations with legitimate licensing. Not only that, but there may even be penalties and back-payments to face.
- Business Credibility – There have been instances in the past where situations of under-licensing are not only required to be balanced via purchases and penalties etc., but your company may even be required to publish an official statement to the software manufacturer or be quoted in the press as an example to other businesses. In any event, negative publicity associated to fraudulent or illegal software use can do your company no favours.
- Malware Infiltration and Cyber Crime – Unauthorised downloads and counterfeit copies of software programs leave your security vulnerable. Viruses associated to these methods of acquiring software can lead to massive data loss and business downtime, not to mention financial expense.
- Data/Confidential Information Leaks – When it comes to things like file sharing, it opens the company up to the risk of data/confidential information leaks that could seriously hurt the company. The repercussions of this are significant, potentially leading to legal action/resulting in identity theft.
- Imprisonment – This is a very real possibility. The director of the company can legally be prosecuted for software theft and can actually be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Even if he had no knowledge of the offenses. It is the responsibility of the directors and/or business owner to maintain license compliance.
How to avoid these piracy problems
- Know what is out there – Start initially by getting to know your software environment. You need to know what is out on your network. Knowledge is power, and as soon as you can identify the areas of risk, the sooner they can be addressed. This can be achieved by deploying a discovery/inventory tool that fits your requirements. Ensure you cover all the bases when it comes to software usage. Cloud based applications or application streaming are some of the latest technologies to create risk around software usage.
- Know what you have – Just as importantly as knowing what you have out on your network, is knowing what licenses and agreements you hold and the parameters around the deployment of the software. The software you have purchased will come with clear license terms whether it is purchased through retail, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or volume licensing. This often means that the deployment of the software is limited to a specific number of devices/users/even hardware specifications.
- Use Authorised Suppliers – Any attempt you can make to centralize your software purchases is a positive. Processing purchases through a centralised (and authorised) channel will give you better control over the validity of licenses you own, but will also give you access to greater discounts in pricing and additional benefits. To ensure that you are obtaining genuine software, ensure you either purchase it directly from the publisher or from one of their authorised resellers and distributors. If you are unsure, details of authorised resellers can be found on the software provider’s website.
Use authorised distributors
One way to avoid wasting valuable time and money on counterfeit or infringing software is to give too-good-to-be-true deals a miss. However, the best way to avoid becoming a victim of software pirates is to purchase from known and trusted sources.
To stop partners falling into the trap of buying or selling counterfeit software, organisations found to be involved in piracy face exposure through Microsoft’s anti-piracy campaign and are black-listed. Microsoft is committed to helping partners and customers who have piracy concerns or were inadvertently sold counterfeit Microsoft software. If you’re aware of any suspicious activity, please report piracy directly to Microsoft by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To be 100% sure that that you’re buying genuine Microsoft software and working with dedicated and committed IT professionals, you should source your products from Microsoft authorised distributors.
Synergy Technology is an accredited and authorised Microsoft Partner. Not only do we support Microsoft business applications, Synergy Technology also offers complete business IT solutions, hosted workspace solutions and IT and software support services.