Piracy crackdown an "empty gesture"

This week's arrests just a drop in the ocean...
Written by Sally Watson, Contributor

This week's arrests just a drop in the ocean...

The massive police operation to crack down on software piracy will ultimately fail unless software suppliers do more to protect their own code. Police from six countries swooped on suspects and raided several premises this week in a bid to catch crackers linked to the DrinkorDie group. Eight arrests were made in the UK. But the bid to flush out the pirates has been called an "empty gesture" by one software firm. Danny Chapchal, CEO of security specialist BitArt Labs, warned that for every cracker arrested, more would spring forward to take their place. "High profile raids are all very well, but are ultimately an empty gesture," he said. "They don't solve the underlying problem that most software security is hopelessly inadequate. DrinkorDie is only one of a number of groups - other talented crackers will come forward to fill the gap left by those arrests." The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) praised its investigators for taking part in the US-led operation. Codenamed Buccaneer, the operation was the largest global anti-piracy effort ever undertaken and the result of more than a year of undercover work. But BitArt believes software companies need to take urgent action to protect their own applications, using encryption to scramble code. According to Mark Gostick, commercial director at BitArt, too many software developers regard piracy as the price for doing business the web. "There are a number of solutions around which they could use to make cracking much harder, but they're not being implemented," Gostick told silicon.com. "It is theft and it's wrong - but software firms could do something to make it much more difficult." Mike Newton, campaign manager at the Business Software Alliance (BSA), said software companies are constantly developing protection methods for code, but the battle with pirates was ongoing. "Our members are constantly using these kinds of [security] technologies, but these people rejoice in trying to crack them," Newton said. "It would be great to have uncrackable software, but the reality is you have to have constant monitoring and police action as well." The BSA estimates that a third of all software applications used worldwide are pirated, a figure that translated into £12bn in lost revenues in 1999.
Editorial standards