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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

1 in 10 employees admit to software piracy: survey


The Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST) released the results of a Decima Research survey that found Canadian employees are increasing the risk of software piracy on workplace computer systems.

One in 10 employees is installing software from outside sources without the knowledge of their IT department.

The survey release coincides with CAAST's Software Audit Campaign in Ontario from Sept. 27 to Oct. 15. During this campaign, CAAST is reaching out to Ontario businesses to raise their awareness about using only fully licensed software and warning them of the risks they may be facing if even one employee installs pirated software.

Unlicensed software -- whether illegally copied, purchased or downloaded -- poses serious consequences to companies, including legal liability, security risks and viruses.

Under Canadian copyright law, each software program infringed can result in damages of up to $20,000 and businesses can be held liable for the actions of their employees.

Findings from the Decima Research survey conducted in July 2004 point to employee education as a key factor in minimizing software piracy in the workplace.
  • When questioned on the rationale behind the unauthorized installations, 37% of the respondents felt there was nothing wrong with doing so.
  • 26% felt it was more convenient than going through proper channels to acquire the software.
  • 42% of employees surveyed say they have never been briefed about their company's policies regarding downloading, installing or using unlicensed software on workplace computers.
  • While 31% of employees said they believed they would be discouraged from suggesting the use of unlicensed software as a means of saving money for their company, a surprising 27% said they were unsure of their employer's position on the issue.

    "It only takes one employee to use pirated software on a work computer to compromise a company's reputation and computer security and safety," said Allan Steel, of CAAST.

    "The fact that employees may be unknowingly and unintentionally exposing their companies to software piracy risks suggests that employee education is a critical first step for minimizing future use of unlicensed software by employees."

    As part of its Software Audit Campaign, CAAST is reaching out to over 30,000 businesses all across Ontario and urging them to mitigate the risks of software piracy by:
  • Downloading and reading CAAST's Guide to Software Management.
  • Establishing software management policies that protect company computers from unlicensed software.
  • Educating employees about company software management policies.
  • Comparing the number of software installations to the number of licenses currently owned and obtaining any licenses needed for compliance.
  • Scheduling regular software audits to guard against piracy.

    "In the age where good business ethics are expected of companies, software piracy should be considered a serious threat that can undermine a company's operations, reputation and security," said David Brander, chairman of the Canadian Council of the Better Business Bureau.

    "We support CAAST's efforts to help companies act responsibly and adopt proper software asset management programs and policies and to share these with employees."

    For free access to software audit tools including CAAST's Guide to Software Management, visit www.caast.org/roulette or call 1-866-NO PIRACY for more information.

    Sun news wires



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