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APAC remains a hotbed for software piracy

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The Asia-Pacific region is still seeing the highest use of unlicensed software installations globally, making enterprises more susceptible to cyber attacks from malware

Asia-Pacific (APAC) continues to be a hotbed for software piracy, with unlicensed software used in just under six out of 10 software installations across the region in 2017, a BSA study has found.

This was despite a slight decline in the rate of unlicensed software installations in the region, from 61% in 2015 to 57% in 2017. The commercial value of the unlicensed software in the APAC region was estimated at $16.4bn.

The highest rate of unlicensed software use in the APAC region was in Bangladesh (84%), closely followed by Indonesia and Pakistan (83%). Meanwhile, mature markets such as Japan and New Zealand had the lowest rate of unlicensed software use (16%), followed by Australia (18%).

According to the study, the higher the rate of unlicensed software use, the greater the likelihood of a debilitating malware infection – a link that was understood by CIOs, 54% of whom cited lower security risks as the main reason to ensure their software is fully licensed.

The link between software piracy and malware infections was also quantified by a Microsoft-commissioned study last year which found that software distributed through discs and new PCs in the region were bundled with malware.

Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of BSA, said businesses should establish software asset management programmes to evaluate and manage the software on their networks to reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Taking such action also appears to be good for business, with enterprises’ profits expected to grow by as much as 11% when they take measures to enhance software management.

But 45% of respondents to the survey said their organisations did not have a policy on the use of unlicensed software, nor were they unaware of such policies. Some 25% of the enterprises also did not have a policy on staff who bring and install their own software.

An employee at a small company told Computer Weekly that he uses unlicensed software at work, and his employer does not take measures to verify it. Although he has not suffered a cyber attack, the employee said he is aware that attacks are more likely to result from using unlicensed software.

Tarun Sawney, senior director of enforcement at BSA, said: “Organisations must do more to actively adopt policies that mandate the use of legal and licensed software, especially in the APAC region where the high rate of unlicensed software use in worrying.”

The survey was conducted across more than 110 countries and regions, and included nearly 23,000 responses from consumers, employees and CIOs.
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