We are in an age of growing and ever evolving technology advancement. With it comes many programmes and software which is made available online that enhances efficiency. That been said, there are also growing trends of software piracy.
Software piracy is defined as an act of illegally copying or distributing software without being the rightful owner or having legal rights. Thus, if you are copying or sharing software to multiple computers or multiple individuals without having the proper multiple licensing, it is considered piracy.¹
What you need to know:
1. Repercussions Of Fines Or Imprisonment Or Both
Software piracy is considered as cybercrime and theft and it is a felony. Under the Copyright Act 1987, those found guilty of using unlicensed software could be fined up to RM20,000 for each illegal copy of software while senior managers of a company could be imprisoned for up to five years. As reported in The Star on 25th Feb 2020, Malaysia has an unlicensed software rate of 51%. Globally, you will hear people who illegally download software and content online use the same excuses: the prices for the original software is too expensive, downloading pirated versions is so much easier². However, it is still deemed unethical.
2. Viruses and Potential Malware Attacks
Some of the common risks you are exposed to when using unlicensed software include credit card and banking info theft, identity theft, ransomware ( being locked out of your system until you pay the ransom), ad fraud and even risk the quality of your work being compromised. In actuality, individuals that visit piracy sites or download unlicensed software are almost 50% more likely to suffer from malware attacks on their devices or networks. You can expect random crashes while you’re working, not being able to save, and even, corrupted files after you’re done. Once your operating system is compromised, everything, literally everything is compromised!³
Microsoft has stopped support for Win 7 a year back. PCs’ running on Win 7 or older window systems are defenseless to ransomware attacks such as WannaCry, Petya which have effected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries with damages ranging from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.4
According to BSA-GSS Report, each malware attack can cost a company up to $2.4 mil and can take up to 50 days to resolve. Think about the business losses – downtime, loss of data, your brand and reputation. As report, IDC estimates companies taking the pragmatic steps to improve their software management can boost their bottom line as much as 11%.5
3. No Updates For Your Software
With unlicensed and pirated software installed on your devices, you may find you will not be able to do the constant updating of the software. Over time, it becomes susceptible to bugs and other malware attacks. Because a pirate program is cracked by illegitimate individuals after certain updates, the software fails to download the legitimate updates for the actual software developer, thus, leaving your devices and networks vulnerable.
Those with legitimate software are worry free as software developers provide constant updates to counter the problem and leave crackers a step behind.6
4. Refurbished or New PCs
It is to the user’s advantage and peace of mind to install licensed software when acquiring new or refurbished PCs. However, many assume that these PCs are with licensed software. Another misconception is that refurbished PCs that had been data wiped retains its licenses. Do you know that the license is only valid for the original user?7