unlicensed business software pirateWith good reason, software piracy is generally frowned upon.

While it’s illegal to use unlicensed business software, it’s often difficult to get caught – and that’s what keeps it going. The United States is better than most other countries in this regard, with an estimated 19% of all software installs being pirated. In extremely undeveloped nations, the rate of software piracy is often near 90%. Per the 2015 Arxan State of Application Security study, software piracy shows no signs of slowing down, with thousands of places to download pirated software and thousands more to generate license keys available on the internet.

The risks of software piracy go beyond just legal implications – which can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially jail time, but also poses a significant threat to network security.

Below are some of the issues that can arise from utilizing unlicensed business software:

You Won’t Have Access to Customer Support

Pirated software is not supported by the developer. When Microsoft or Adobe releases a critical update, owners of pirated software will not be able to authenticate their software and receive the update. This opens your business up to extreme vulnerabilities which can result in bigger problems like data loss or theft. If you do fall victim of these issues don’t expect the developer to help bail you out.

Unlicensed Software Can Come with Unexpected Add-Ons

When obtaining pirated software, you have a one in three chance of accidentally downloading malware with it. This can lead to irreparable damages, like identity theft & loss of personal data including payment information. By nature, networks that distribute pirated software are largely infectious environments ripe with tracking cookies, spyware, Trojans & more.

You Won’t Be as Productive

Along with a lack of support, many pirated software programs won’t have access to online features to avoid detection. The bugs and glitches common with pirated versions of software can lead to frequent crashes, making it hard to get through a productive workday.

How to Prevent Pirated Software at Your Business

Unfortunately, when end users have the capability to download software to their machines it’s not uncommon for them to look to pirated versions, given that roughly 39% of all software in the world is unlicensed. For example, paying for Adobe Photoshop is simply out of reach for your business and you encourage designers to use a free program like Gimp. They feel however, that they must have Photoshop so they download a pirated version to their local machine without your knowledge.

Software asset management is a simple, yet necessary task for any IT department to continually keep track of. Within your software asset management program, remember to keep track of all license expiration dates and ensure software remains up to date.

Along with an inventory system, educate employees on the dangers of software piracy and its legal repercussions. These small steps can help avoid legal complications, but also help your hardware and confidential data stay secure.

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