Surprise: 57 percent admit to using pirated software

Is it just coincidence that unmanaged and unpatched software continues to be a major security problem?

The Business Software Alliance has published an interesting finding in its latest study of software piracy. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed admitted to using pirated software at least some of the time, with 31 percent saying they do it “all of the time.”

Businesses are among the worst offenders.

“Business decision-makers who admit they frequently pirate software are more than twice as likely as other computer users to say they buy software for one computer but then install it on additional machines in their offices,” according to the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study. “This form of license abuse accounts for the vast majority of enterprise software piracy globally — and the commercial value of it adds up quickly, because it is not uncommon for large companies to make hundreds or thousands of illegal copies.”


Related coverage:

For some hacks, everything old is new again


The study comes on the heels of numerous reports indicating that the bulk of security breaches are caused by known vulnerabilities for which patches or software updates are available. Is there a relationship between this volume of unlicensed software and the persistence of software that is not being properly maintained and patched?

“It can be a security issue,” said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman. He said it is more likely to be a cultural problem than a direct correlation between vulnerabilities and pirated software. An organization that is sloppy in the management of its software use and licensing also is probably likely to have lax security policies as well, he said.

Whatever the exact cause-and-effect relationship, it is easy to believe that unlicensed, undocumented software is unlikely to be adequately supported under an enterprise patch management program.

The BSA report is based on IDC market data on PC and software sales in global markets, which Holleyman called the “gold standard” for what is happening in the computer market, combined with survey data gathered by Ipsos Public Affairs from 14,700 individuals in 33 countries representing about 80 percent of the global software market.

The results indicate that about 42 percent of installed software around the world is pirated, with a commercial value of $63.4 billion. BSA does not claim that this value is the net loss to the software industry, because there is no way to tell what percentage of it would have been bought legally had it not been installed illegally.

The United States is the most law-abiding country percentage-wise, with a piracy rate of about 19 percent. But because of the size of the U.S. market, it also accounts for the largest share of illegal software, an estimated $9.8 billion worth.

China, which pirates an estimated 77 percent of its software, is in second place with a total value of about $8.9 billion. Chinese computer users spend on average just $8.89 on legal software for each computer, compared with $127 in the United States.

BSA says that whatever the cost to the software industry, these figures represent a threat to U.S. economic well-being because of the unfair competitive advantage it gives businesses using pirated software.

But the prevalence of pirated software in the enterprise, even at 19 percent in the United States, also represents a threat to IT security.

In the first place, software from untrusted sources can come with malicious code already baked in, representing a direct threat. And even shrink-wrapped software from a reputable vendor is likely to contain vulnerabilities and will have to be maintained through patching and updates to avoid exploitation by the bad guys. If the software is being illegally copied and installed throughout an enterprise, the odds are it is not being properly managed.

I have not seen any studies correlating security exploits with pirated software. It might not be a significant part of the intransigent security problems we are facing today. But then again, it might be. At any rate, it is one more reason to ensure that software is properly managed throughout the enterprise.

 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.