Pirated Software And Why You Should Avoid It

Software which has been illegally copied or distributed is referred to as pirated software. The term pirated software is also used to describe any software that is used without full ownership or full legal rights.

Copying legally acquired software to multiple computers or sharing such software with friends without acquiring multiple licenses is illegal and referred to as software piracy. Software piracy extends to processes such as software cracking which involves modifying software to disable/remove features considered undesirable by software pirates. Such features include; copy protection features, adware and nag screens which make it difficult for pirated software to be manipulated.

What are the risks, dangers or cons/disadvantages of using pirated software?


  • It is illegal: You should avoid pirated software because of many reasons. First and foremost, it is illegal. If you are caught copying, distributing or using pirated software, you are at risk of paying a hefty fine or facing jail time.
  • Most common source of malicious programs: Pirated software is the #1 source of computer viruses, keyloggers among other malicious software used to steal passwords and sensitive data as well as corrupt computer files. [1]
  • High risk of malfunctions: A computer program which has been created improperly or modified illegally is prone to malfunctions. Pirated software tends to malfunction or cause computer problems. If the software doesn’t come with a key or valid identification no., you will not be able to install the program let alone run it.
  • Risky purchase: It is almost impossible to get refunded for software you have acquired illegally.
  • No support: Illegal software doesn’t come with support or documentation making it difficult to troubleshoot any problems that arise.
  • No add-ons/offers: Legal software comes with upgrades, updates, offers, patches, etc. Illegal software is sold as it is with no future add-ons among other perks important for continuity/growth.
  • Long-term losses for most (if not all) parties involved: The only beneficiaries of pirated software are the pirates (assuming they aren’t caught). Users of pirated software lose out eventually on innovation, security risks and malfunctions in the long-term.

Why do people tend to crack software instead of buying it?


People still use illegal software despite the obvious risks surrounding such software. There are several reasons why people crack software instead of buying it.
  • Cost: This is the most apparent reason. People download illegal software because they don’t want to pay for it. For instance, a person may not be willing to buy software they will only use once or a few times. For others, it’s because the legal version is too costly. However, cost shouldn’t be a reason for anyone willing to pay for original software given you can get great deals for genuine software on websites like our site: SharewareDeals.
  • Lenient punishment/perception: People also tend to crack software simply because they can get away with it. People fear doing illegal things like stealing a car over pirating software because your chances of going to jail are slimmer if you are a software pirate. Some people also think it is fine to steal digital products. Such people view digital products differently from physical products.
  • Software availability problems: This is another reason/common rationale among people who use illegal sources of software like torrent websites. Software availability becomes a problem when software is available in certain regions only initially depriving people in other regions who may be willing to pay but aren’t patient enough to wait for a release in their region.
  • Payment problems: Online stores which have payment challenges such as; restrictive payment methods can force some willing buyers to buy elsewhere.
  • Software creators have already earned enough money: Some people may not be willing to buy software from companies which are already established (have already made “enough” money). What such people fail to realize is; software companies need a lot of money to continue researching and developing newer and better software. Furthermore, pirates don’t have the right to copy and sell software they have obtained illegally.
  • Ignorance: Most people aren’t knowledgeable about copyright law. Such people may not know what is legal or illegal online.

Why pirated software is bad for business


Businesses which use pirated software are exposed to serious risks. Although some businesses do it unknowingly because it is employees who run these programs without the business owner’s knowledge, some organizations use pirated software knowingly. Besides the moral argument against pirated software, there are many other reasons why illegal software is bad for business.

1. Hefty fines

The risk of businesses being hit by huge fines because of software piracy is higher than ever. Although the use of unlicensed software has decreased in the recent past globally thanks to innovations like cloud computing, the costs (such as legal settlements) associated with using pirated software are now higher more than ever. [2]

In a nutshell, the cost savings enjoyed by using pirated software can easily be overshadowed by the hefty fines businesses are faced with when found guilty of software piracy by the BSA (Business Software Alliance). Furthermore, ignorance can’t be used as a defense in any court of law. If your business is found to be using illegal software, the fines will still apply. Business owners are solely responsible for what their employees do including running doggy software at work.

2. Increased risk of malware

Businesses have more to worry about besides copyright lawyers and hefty fines. Buying software online that isn’t genuine comes with increased malware risks. Pirated programs usually contain spyware and viruses among other malicious programs that have the potential to steal sensitive company information, slow down vital business systems and even run business operations to a halt. Besides losing precious time and potential business, you will have to spend money to get the issue fixed.

In case you were using ransomware (malware that “locks you out” of your computers), you may be required to pay ransom to regain access to your business systems after which you will have to worry about personal and business data theft. You may also be fined for breaching GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) if sensitive customer or staff data has been breached.

3. Lack of support

All computer programs are prone to malfunctions among other problems like incompatibility with other programs or software. If you buy genuine software, you can get quick fixes to such problems. Genuine software developers release solutions in the form of updates/upgrades and distribute them online via website downloads or automated update processes. Software pirates have no intention of supporting their customers or troubleshooting problems after they have “cashed-in”.

As a result, businesses using pirated software lose out on a lot including new features and security updates. This means that illegal software tends to be packed with malware, security loopholes and technical problems that remain unsolved increasing business risks.

4. Disgruntled employees

Disgruntled employees have an incentive to report their employers thanks to the BSA. Just recently, the BSA started gives rewards to employees among other individuals who report businesses/companies using pirated software. Individuals who report software piracy can get a cash reward amounting to £10,000 for every successful judgment or settlement. Rewards amount to 10% of damages up to a limit of £10,000. This BSA reward is largely responsible for the success of BSA efforts and has largely been supported by employees of organizations using pirated software. The promise of cash makes disgruntled employees more willing to report any infractions. [3]

Business Software Alliance (BSA) study on the global software piracy


    The BSA is the leading global software industry advocate in the global marketplace. The BSA comes before governments and is composed of the most innovative companies in the world creating software to spark growth and improve modern living. The organization has a presence in over 60 countries with a key mandate of pioneering compliance programs promoting legal software use. The BSA also advocates for laws fostering technology innovation and driving growth.

    2018 study

    The latest BSA study in conjunction with the IDC set out to establish the volume and value of pirated software on PCs in over 110 national & regional economies. According to the results, 37% of software on PCs today is unlicensed. [4] Pirated software use has only decreased by 2% indicating that unlicensed software installation and use is still a widespread problem.

    The study also reveals that although the commercial value of pirated software has decreased, most countries still have software piracy rates of 50% or higher. What’s troubling is; the high rates don’t simply decrease local economic benefits experienced with thriving technology use/implementation but also slow down the growth of businesses and introduce unprecedented security risks.

    The study also reveals that CIOs are finding pirated software increasingly expensive and risky which is contrary to popular belief. Companies have a 33% chance of encountering suspicious programs like malware when they buy or install unlicensed software packages or buy computers with pirated software.

    Every malware attack is estimated to cost organizations approximately $2.4 million and can require up to 50 days to fix. If the malware infection results in downtime or loss of sensitive company data, it can introduce serious problems affecting a company’s brand.

    The BSA study has also revealed that the cost of dealing with malware associated with pirated software is also growing. It costs over $10,000 for a company to deal with one infected computer. Global costs for companies stand at approximately $359 billion yearly.

    CIOs are now focused on ensuring all software in an organization is fully licensed as a critical measure to avoiding malware threats. Boosting software compliance has now become a security imperative as well as an economic enabler since licensed software offers protection against crippling malware, data beaches among other security threats.

    The study also reveals that leaders realize the importance of managing software as a new and powerful tool for decreasing downtime and boosting profits. The IDC estimates an 11% boost in a business’s bottom-line when software management is improved.

Is pirated software illegal?


    Yes! Copying, distributing or using software without full ownership or full rights is illegal.

    Why you should buy software legally instead of pirating?
    It is clear that the cost-benefit you enjoy when you buy software online via illegal channels isn’t worth it. Software piracy is costly when you consider the security risks you expose yourself or your organization to and the global cost of using unlicensed software (amounting to $359 billion). [5]

    You could incur over $10,000 in costs per infected computer when dealing with malware attacks caused by unlicensed software in your company yet the actual cost of licensed software is lower.

    Let’s not even mention the legal costs incurred when dealing with pirated software offenses. Considering your employees also have a $10,000 incentive to report you to the BSA if you are using unlicensed software, you have a lot to worry about as a business owner.

    Companies must take meaningful steps to boost software management which covers everything including sourcing genuine software to getting the best out of technology investments. Software asset management is important for business owners keen on running their systems legitimately. Software asset management helps to decrease cyber risks, boost productivity, reduce downtime, reduce costs and centralize license management. Studies show that companies stand to save as much as 30% per year in software costs by simply implementing robust software asset management as well as software license optimization programs. [6]

    Individuals also stand to gain when they buy software online legally instead of pirating it. Since pirated software is the primary source of viruses, keyloggers among other malicious software in PCs responsible for steal passwords and sensitive personal data/information, you are bound to save yourself from a lot, (if not all) PC problems when you buy licensed software. With PCs at the center of everything we do today from communicating to personal banking, cybersecurity is as critical to individuals as it is to companies.

Sourcing affordable genuine software


Since cost is among the leading causes of software piracy, it is important to shop for software discounts when you buy software online. Luckily, there are websites like our site which offering software discounts which are valid on official software vendor shops. Alternatively, you can wait for special offers on Black Friday, during special releases or holidays when software companies are offering special deals.

References:
  • [1] https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2382282
  • [2] https://gss.bsa.org/
  • [3] https://reporting-emea.bsa.org/r/report/add.aspx?src=uk&ln=en-gb
  • [4] https://gss.bsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2018_BSA_GSS_InBrief_US.pdf
  • [5] http://www.bsa.org/news-and-events/news/2018/june/gl06052018gss/?sc_lang=en
  • [6] https://gss.bsa.org/
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