IT Security

Unlicensed software findings

by Mark Rowe

About a fifth, 21pc of software installed on computers in the UK in 2017 was not properly licensed, according to a survey from the BSA, a trade association for the software sector. That was a one percentage point decrease compared with BSA’s prior study, released in 2016. The commercial value of unlicensed software installed in the UK was found to be £1.05bn. This is the third highest value in Western Europe after France (£1.4bn) and Germany (£1.2bn), and 15pc of the total value in Western Europe.

The trade body points to an increased uptake in Software Asset Management (SAM), adoption of subscription models, and growing awareness of the cybersecurity risks linked to the use of unlicensed software. In fact, 54 percent of CIOs around the world cited cybersecurity risks as the number one reason to avoid unlicensed software, with a lower risk of legal issues being the second. Near half, 46 per cent cited loss of corporate/personal data as their top concern about malware effects from unlicensed software. As a result, the number of CIOs who have a formal written policy about the use of licensed software has jumped from 41 percent in 2015 to 54 percent this year.

Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance, said: “Organisations around the world are missing out on the economic and security benefits that well-managed software provides. Businesses should establish software asset management (SAM) programmes to evaluate and manage the software on their networks. This, in turn, helps organisations reduce the risk of debilitating cyberattacks and helps grow their revenues.”

BSA released the 2018 Global Software Survey: Software Management: Security Imperative, Business Opportunity. That quantifies the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in more than 110 countries and regions, and includes nearly 23,000 responses from consumers, employees, and CIOs.
Globally, the rate of unlicensed software stands at 37pc, down from 39pc in 2016. The value of unlicensed software around the world is £34.5bn, a drop from the last survey but still widespread, the BSA points out.

CIOs report unlicensed software is increasingly risky and expensive. Malware from unlicensed software costs companies worldwide nearly £267 billion a year. CIOs report that avoiding data hacks and other security threats from malware is the number one reason for ensuring their networks are fully licensed. Improving software compliance is now an economic enabler in addition to a security imperative, the trade body suggests.

For more of the survey, including a breakdown of country-specific data, visit


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