A Year Ago: Technology tackles pirates

IT managers are failing to alert colleagues to the dangers of illegal software, a new report suggests, though there is evidence that technology is increasingly being used to police corporate networks

First published: 08:01 Mon 29 May 2000

For its second annual survey on software piracy and UK businesses, the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) and consultancy KPMG polled senior managers from a cross-section of industries on the management of software and licences. The survey showed that senior managers do not place software licensing high on their list of priorities and that there is a lack of disciplinary procedures for breaches of licensing policy, said Fast chief executive Geoff Webster.

Although IT managers argued that they are often too busy running their departments to alert the board to the issue, they agreed on the importance of strict controls. Tony Jaskeran, IS manager at Allied Bakeries, said his firm kept a tight grip on software licensing.

"Most users do not have access to the administrator password so they are unable to install unauthorised software. We issue written guidelines to all new staff on illegal software. Users who need access are warned that the machines will be rebuilt if any non-standard software is found. We also audit the machines. Staff are also encouraged to report any suspicions to me," he said.

Colin Rainey, senior IT officer at the Ulster Hospital, keeps control over his network with a login script warning against unapproved installations. "We make use of network tools to monitor software installations, and keep copies of all orders, and original manual covers with the licences on the front," Rainey said. He finds that users and senior managers take responsibility for the integrity of the software. Allied's Jaskeran added that the legal implications of piracy -­ which can mean prison sentences for those held responsible -- are a powerful motivator.

Graham Stewart, IT strategy manager for East Ayrshire council, said his department is installing remote management software. "It will maintain our asset inventory and will give IT the option of blocking or reporting installation of software," he said.

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