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32% of software in SA unlicensed – BSA

32% drop in use of unlicensed software in SA – BSA

32 percent of software installed on computers in South Africa is not properly licensed, according to the 2018 Global Software Survey released by BSA/ The Software Alliance.

The global software industry organisation said this represents a one point decrease compared to its previous study, released in 2016.

However, the commercial value of unlicensed software installed in South Africa was found to be R2,9 billion.

"Organisations around the world are missing out on the economic and security benefits that well-managed software provides," said Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance. "Businesses should establish software asset management (SAM) programmes to evaluate and manage the software on their networks. This, in turn, helps organisations reduce the risk of debilitating cyberattacks and helps grow their revenues."

The BSA / The Software Alliance stated that globally, organisations use software to improve the way they do business, increase profits, reach new markets, and gain competitive advantages. But, as CIOs reported and as analysis detailed in the survey confirms, if the software is unlicensed, organisations run a significant risk of encountering often-crippling security threats.

"In fact, CIOs noted that personal and corporate data theft is their primary concern related to malware that can accompany unlicensed software. As a result, more than half of surveyed CIOs cited cybersecurity risks as the number one reason to avoid unlicensed software (54%), with a lower risk of legal issues being the second (43%)," read a statement from the Alliance.

The organisation suggests that the lower rate of use of unlicensed software in South Africa is influenced by key trends, including "stable and effective enforcement and great cooperation between industry and government."

This will come under the spotlight with the enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act.

In May Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti, partner in the commercial litigation department at law firm Webber Wentzel, warned that South African businesses would be "in for a rude awakening" once the country's Information Regulator begins with enforcement.

"It's important for companies in South Africa to consider that our Information Regulator is going to be looking for someone to cut their teeth on, they are going to be looking for a 'nice example' to demonstrate to the rest of the market what it is they are capable of doing and what they want to deter. You don't want your company to become that example," said Ampofo-Anti.

According to the research, the use of unlicensed software, while down slightly, is still widespread, an CIOs report unlicensed software is increasingly risky and expensive (malware from unlicensed software costs companies worldwide nearly US$359 billion a year).

Paul Williams, Country Manager Fortinet SA, said, "This risk can been seen as medium-to-high ... if the software is not kept up to date and there is no master patch version or fix, that software version is open to being attacked when no fixes are being applied. We have seen this with Petya ransomware. There is no support with unlicensed software and this comes with its own set of problems including ensuring the engineer can fix any persisting problems, instability and other causes."

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