Using pirated software opens a company to increased security breaches.
Sophos warns that businesses increase their security and productivity risks by allowing counterfeit software programs to run on their company networks following research from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) that revealed that more than a third of PCs worldwide are running pirated software.
According to the research, 35% of computers run at least one illegal program, with computer users in China and Russia the worst offenders (with over 80 percent of computers running pirated software). Sophos experts note that pirated software can leave business networks open to attack as cybercriminals are provided with an additional route to infection.
Putting aside the legal issues, piracy can have a real impact on a company in terms of security, says Brett Myroff, CEO of master Sophos distributor, NetXactics.
"While businesses should ensure that all PCs are running legitimate copies of Word, for example, they must also control what programs their employees are downloading, installing and running.”
Patching against software vulnerabilities is key to any good IT security policy, but with pirated software this becomes near impossible. “Pirated software downloaded from dodgy websites or bought from a man in an alleyway does not come with technical support, and may even be virus infected," he adds.
According to Sophos, running pirated software on corporate networks can also have severe repercussions on the network infrastructure, hogging valuable bandwidth and network resources.
"Businesses simply cannot afford to ignore piracy. The corporate network is the backbone of any company and if you allow users to run anything they like on it, whether illegal or not, you shouldn't be surprised when it breaks down," Myroff says.