A podcast about software compliance, with CourtHeath consultant, Alf Zarro.
The prevalence of computers in the workplace means software asset management is crucial in modern business life. It enables you to keep track of all-important software licences thereby reducing risks of non-compliance; it provides transparency; and can even increase productivity.
In addition to helping you reduce risks, improve transparency and productivity, software asset management also can save you money, including by helping you eliminate or reallocate underused software licenses; by limiting overheads you pay for software support or managing programs; and reducing the potential for unexpected or duplicate software costs.
Keeping track of software licences is an important part of these asset management systems. A global advocate for the software industry, The Software Alliance (BSA), says Australian businesses need to be aware of increased software piracy penalties and cybercrime risks.
Non-compliance is costing Victorian companies dearly. Last year’s figures aren’t out yet, but the Business Software Alliance recorded a busy 2014, settling 12 cases in Australia, involving illegal software with an estimated value of $825,000. And Victorians were the worst offenders. The BSA says “Australians remained vigilant in reporting illegal software use in business, with cases reported from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South and Western Australia. For the second year running, Victoria recorded the most settlements with almost three-quarters of cases settled originating in the State. This is a significant increase from 2013. With the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network recently disclosing that Australians were reporting over 500 cybercrimes every week, the BSA is now calling on businesses to ensure their software is properly licensed as a key step towards protecting their intellectual property and business processes.”
Software asset management helps you manage licence compliance in all parts of your organisation. Effective tracking of your software licences helps lower the risk of non-compliance and can create a better workplace for your staff. In addition, an effective SAM program will reduce the downloading or purchasing of software from unauthorised sites that can infect computers with viruses. Having properly licensed software in your business will ensure all users have access to user manuals, and product support which helps your staff be more productive. When you institute SAM best practices, you manage these resources effectively. In helping you stay compliant, these programs can put your business partners at ease. If you’re consulting, contracting or subcontracting on a project, a primary consideration (for partners/clients) is that you follow the law.
Making or using illegal software for personal use or at work is a civil offence under the Copyright Act and offenders are liable for damages of an amount determined by the courts, as well as legal costs. This Short Guide to Copyright in Australia, spells out what comes under copyright law, including for your computer goods.
The BSA relies on individuals reporting non-compliant organisations and offers rewards for information that leads to a successful conviction or civil court case.
In many cases these reports are made anonymously. The BSA suggests that with reports of cybercrime rising in Australia, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to ensure they have formal policies on licensed software use to ensure the best possible security. Cybercrime covers criminal activities carried out with computers or the internet. These can be directed at computers or other devices, and are where computers or other devices are integral to the offence e.g. online fraud, identity theft and the distribution of child exploitation material. Common types of cybercrime include hacking, online scams and fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited online content.
Regular audits of software can help reduce the risks of your computers being targeted, or alert you when incidents happen. In addition, investigators say illegal downloads or introducing pirated copies of software are some ways malware can infect your business computers. And clearing that malware can be costly – it affects workflow, staff morale, and possibly your business’s reputation. The BSA says keeping track of software licences must go hand in hand with businesses having written policies requiring the use of licensed software.
The BSA has some details of what costs companies can incur, if things go wrong – the alliance’s general counsel and senior vice president for anti-piracy, Jodie Kelley, says “There is a strong case for organisations to put protection from malware at the top of their risk agenda. In the past year, 43% of companies included in a recent global study* experienced a data breach. The average organisation experiences a malware event every three minutes, and the costs of dealing with that malware can be astronomical. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that enterprises spent US$491 billion in 2014 as a result of malware associated with counterfeit and unlicensed software.”
The BSA has undertaken to continue to work on educating businesses on the benefits of sound software asset management programs, to help them avoid legal and security risks, and ensure they have the right number of licenses for their users.
* The study compared rates of unlicensed software installed on PCs with a measure of malware incidents on PCs across 81 countries. See more – BSA cyber threat study
Alf Zarro is one of CourtHeath’s procurement consultants. He has a background in Victorian public sector ICT procurement (especially software licensing) and professional services. Alf has led software audits and reviews resulting in significant cost savings.
Image: © CourtHeath Consulting
Podcast production: Philippa O’Donnell
Music: Love Wins by Lee Rosevere