Pirated Software 'Rife' in Homes & Businesses

I'm not really surprised to hear that new research reveals home owners are more comfortable bending the law and using pirated software on their computers, but I am surprised to learn that businesses are also doing this - however both are ignorant to increasing dangers.

According to software giant Microsoft, one in eight adults admit using pirated software at work yet just 30% understood the risks involved.

Microsoft’s Attitudes to Piracy report found pirated software leads to computer viruses in 62% of cases, a loss of personal data in 31% of experiences and caused a user’s computer to crash in 38% of all cases.

Additionally, six out of 10 people said that they knew little about the dangers of using pirated software as opposed to the risks when illegally downloading films or music.

Susie Winter from the Alliance Against IP Theft says, “People need to understand that there are inherent risks to their own security, including identity theft, from using pirated software products and that they can often be the victim of other’s criminal actions, such as an employer using pirated software in the workplace."

London was named as the UK’s piracy hotspot with 14% of people using pirated software, while over half of all respondents said they believed their boss would consider the practice as acceptable.

“Businesses have many excuses for not managing software effectively.  Cost cutting, ignorance and changes in IT personnel are often cited during legal action.  But the cost of being found using unlicensed software far outweighs any perceived savings,” said Julian Swan, Director of Compliance Marketing at the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

“Businesses expose themselves to the risks of fines, damage to reputation and data loss if they allow software to be duplicated or downloaded from illegal websites.  It may seem like a cost saving but it’s a likely cause of major regret.”

In December last year the BSA ran a campaign encouraging employees to report their companies if they thought they were using illegal software - I wonder if any did!?  It also temporarily increased the potential reward for reporting software piracy from £10,000 to £20,000 until 31 December 2009.