Unlicensed software use still rampant in Asia: BSA

Some 61 percent of installed software were unlicensed in 2015, resulting in a loss value of US$19.1 billion, according to Business Software Alliance.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Some 61 percent of software installed in computers across Asia-Pacific last year were unlicensed, compared to 39 percent globally.

While this was a slight drop from 62 percent in 2013, the illegal usage had resulted in a value loss of US$19.1 billion for software vendors, according to the latest stats from Business Software Alliance (BSA). Worldwide, unlicensed software use in 2013 was 43 percent.

At 61 percent, the Asia-Pacific region also had the highest software piracy rate, followed by 58 percent in Central and Eastern Europe, and 57 percent in the Middle East-Africa. North America's 17 percent was the lowest globally, though, this resulted in a loss value of US$10 billion.

In this region, Bangladesh clocked the highest level of unlicensed software at 86 percent, while both Indonesia and Pakistan tied at 84 percent.

China saw a 4 percent drop in its unlicensed software use to 70 percent in 2015 compared to 2013, but the country posed the highest loss for software vendors at almost US$8.66 billion.

At 58 percent, India's unlicensed software use resulted in a loss of US$2.68 billion last year.

Across Asean markets, Singapore's unlicensed software rate clocked at 30 percent, compared to Vietnam's 79 percent, Thailand's 69 percent, and Malaysia's 53 percent.

Japan had the world's second-lowest rate at 18 percent, compared to the United States' 17 percent.

BSA described the persistent use of unlicensed software as "surprisingly high", given that tighter controls were expected in digital environments. Among companies in banking, insurance, and securities, the percentage of unlicensed use was 25 percent worldwide, it noted.

Such illegitimate software use bore high risks due to its strong correlation to cybersecurity attacks and the likelihood it would come with malware, said the industry group, which members comprised global software vendors. It added that cyberattacks cost businesses more than US$400 billion last year.

"Cybersecurity is a top concern for businesses and organisations everywhere, but there is a disconnect in their attitudes towards the use of unlicensed software," said Tarun Sawney, BSA's Asia-Pacific senior director.

About 49 percent of CIOs worldwide pointed to security risks from malware as a major threat associated with unlicensed software. Despite this, these IT heads believed 15 percent of their employees installed software on the corporate network without their knowledge. According to the BSA study, however, 26 percent of employee said they had installed unauthorised software on their company's network.

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