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That malware problem might be Jim in finance’s fault, BSA study finds

The latest news from software industry body BSA is that Brits are still throwing caution to the wind and downloading unlicensed software from the internet.

Although the figure has dropped 2 per cent since the organisation last looked at the figures in 2013, 22 per cent of software downloads in the UK were from potentially dubious sources last year.

And this doesn’t even touch on downloads made using phones or tablets.

The global average is still a whopping 39 per cent, so the UK public is hardly the worst offender, but any downloads from unofficial sources can cause pretty serious problems.

The BSA says there’s a “strong, positive correlation between the presence of unlicensed software and the likelihood of encountering malware”, which presents a particular problem for businesses if people are downloading at work.

Cyber attacks cost companies across the world an estimated $400bn last year, according to IDC, many of which could have been caused by the use of unlicensed software.

As part of the huge study, which questioned 20,000 people from 32 countries, CIOs estimated that 15 per cent of their employees were downloading illegal programs – when staff were asked, it was more like 26 per cent.

BSA puts the modest drop down to a wider availability of more accessible cloud-based software, as well as its efforts to track down and fine offenders.

The BSA gives whistleblowers £10,000 if they shop their company, with one SME fined £200,000 last year for going down the illegitimate route.

Interestingly, in another BSA study released earlier this year, IT firms were found to be the worst bootleggers in the UK.

The industry standard COSO framework for establishing better business systems recommended way back in 2013 that “companies adopt internal controls related to the legal use of technology, including software license compliance”.

In other words – you should probably work out a plan to stop this happening under your roof.

Of course, those that lose out in all this are the BSA’s members, who happen to be big enterprise players like Microsoft and Adobe, with the organisation quantifying that the illegitimate download industry is worth £1.3bn in the UK alone.

That’s nothing compared to the estimated value of proper, free open-source software, some $378bn, which is now used by everyone from the NHS to Barclays.

A spokesperon from the BSA told NS Tech that this has: “put downward pressure on rates of unlicensed software installations this year”.

It represents between 25 per cent and 35 per cent of all software deployed last year, including products from companies that traditionally make people pay.

Indeed, some believe that the days of proprietary software are behind us.