Almost 60 per cent of IT businesses experienced a data loss following a malware attack on unlicensed software in 2013, according to a global survey by BSA The Software Alliance.
The BSA survey is conducted by analyst firm IDC every two years. The latest survey, which looks at the year 2013, was conducted during January to February 2014.
Sixty-four per cent of the 2,000 IT managers who took part in the survey said unauthorised access into the IT system by hackers was a concern, while approximately half would not use unlicensed software in the workplace because of malware threats.
The survey also found that unlicensed PC software levels in Australia were 21 per cent in 2013, a 2 per cent reduction since the survey was last conducted in 2011.
However, the Asia Pacific region had the highest rate of unlicensed PC software installations with figures of 62 per cent. Only 35 per cent of IT managers said their company had a policy that covered the use of licensed software.
BSA Asia Pacific's compliance programs senior director, Roland Chan, told Computerworld Australia that the lack of a licensed software policy was "not surprising" as it is not something IT managers prioritise.
However, Chan said there has been growing awareness about the need for licensed software following news reports about companies ending up in court after the BSA found they were using unlicensed software.
For example, 16 cases of software pirating were settled by the BSA in Australia during 2013, a marked increase from 2010 when only six cases were settled.
Copyright infringement damages totalling $536,050 were paid by the businesses. This was a 20 per cent increase on amounts paid in 2012.
At the time, BSA Australia chair Clayton Noble said the increase was due to some historically large settlements including one with Super Radio Network, which was settled in August 2013 following Federal Court proceedings.
Super Radio Network was fined for using unlicensed Adobe and Microsoft software products. The radio network also agreed to conduct a software audit across all of its radio stations to ensure compliance in the future.
Chan advised IT managers that they should manage their software assets so they can easily detect pirated software in the company.
"It's a question of deploying software asset management [SAM] programs that will not only help these organisations avoid security and operational risks but help them obtain a better view of what software has been installed in their network," he said.
The 2013 survey only included unlicensed software downloaded to PCs, but BSA may include data about unlicensed software downloaded to tablets in the next survey.
"We need to look at it from a global perspective. At the end of the day, if we do undertake this study it has to be applied across the world," said Chan.
"Tablets are something we will look at in the future."