Last year South African companies coughed up more than R3.64million for using unlicensed software. This is according to the BSA, who in 2016 received over 230 reports in South Africa alone alleging the use of illegal software usage. Most of these reports came from the BSA’s No Piracy Portal from current and former employees. Sadly, the companies paid more from using unlicensed software than they would if they had used legitimate software.
“Software piracy negatively impacts software publishers and creates unfair competition for legitimate companies. But, more that that, it exposes organisations to legal, financial and reputational damage through security breaches and data loss, not to mention the negative economic impacts through job losses and lost tax revenue” says Darren Olivier, partner at Adams & Adams, legal counsel at BSA.
In one recent case an architecture firm was found using unlicensed software and is set to pay over R100,000 in damages. In another case, a local telecommunications company in Midrand paid nearly R80,000 in damages for copyright infringement.
“Often, IT departments are not even aware that staff have installed unlicensed software o their networks. This makes the business more vulnerable to cyber-attacks because unlicensed software is not patched with the latest security updates, which increases the likelihood of malware entering the network. Should that malware expose sensitive company and client information, the reputational damage could be massive and it will take a long time before the business can rebuild that trust with customers, if at all,” says Darren Olivier.
South Africa tops the global stats for economic crimes, with cyber-crime, now the fourth most reported economic crime in the country. Almost a third of surveyed organisations reported cyber-crimes in the past 24 months, which makes it critically important for a company to be aware of what software is on the network. As an individual, you risk every online bank account, every card detail, all your personal details etc. and they are put at very high risk by having unlicensed software installed.
Individuals and companies are playing with fire allowing the use of unlicensed software. In 2015 cyber-attacks cost businesses over $400 billion.
In South Africa, 33% of software installed on computers is not properly licensed – this represents a total value of $274 million. BSA is noting a need for increased awareness on the risk of installing and using pirated software. To encourage compliance, the BSA offers up to R100,000 reward to those who report piracy on their website, if the information provided results in a settlement. All information relating to the copying, downloading, sharing, selling or installing of unlicensed software onto work computes will be treated as confidential.