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The dangers of using unlicensed software

The good news is that the Internet gives us the chance to find practically anything we are looking for. This allows us to have an infinite information source at our fingertips, where the only absolute fact is the importance of evaluating the search results to rule out false information. As always, this great digital world has its downside. As a practically intrinsic consequence, it facilitates the piracy of virtually any digital product. From books, music and movies, to software.

A global impact problem

The use of unlicensed software is almost invariably attributed to license costs, unaffordable for many people (and some companies), but it can also sometimes be due to users' reluctance to pay an overpriced price for something that, from their perspective, “ it's not worth it". To give an example of the seriousness of this practice, according to an analysis by Statista, in 2018, 60% of the computers in the BRICS countries (the largest emerging economies in the world, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) had installed unlicensed software.

This, in addition to the obvious violation of intellectual and industrial property laws and the losses caused to software development companies, also negatively affects the companies that use them.

First, there are the economic and legal consequences. Each country has its own criteria to combat the use of unlicensed software. The measures taken can range from the imposition of fines and compensation, to the suspension of activities or even imprisonment. All these penalties undoubtedly far outweigh the cost of the license, so we can easily deduce how inconvenient the use of pirated software is in the end.

But the impact does not stop there, but goes to more internal aspects of the company and that, sometimes, have a cost that cannot be recovered:

Security: Being an "invisible" license for software developers, these programs are vulnerable to computer attacks. For example, according to Statista, during the second quarter of 2020, 8.85% of US users fell victim to a phishing attack, often facilitated by files downloaded from the Internet. These attacks can affect the functioning of equipment, but their main use is to steal information from users; in the case of an organization, without a doubt one of its most valuable assets.

To be fair, the use of pirated software, sometimes, is not the responsibility of the company. Especially in SMEs, IT control is very limited or null, so it is practically impossible to have visibility over what employees install on their computers. Even if it is for personal use, vulnerabilities are present if the device is used for business purposes.

Update: For the same reason as the previous point, these programs cannot be updated, which not only makes it impossible to solve operational problems that are systematically resolved through updates, but also limits the useful life of the software. Finally, the pirate user will not have access to customer service, which will leave him defenseless against the malfunction of the program.

Loss of trust: Last but not least, is how it impacts the image and credibility of the company. This goes beyond a customer finding out that a company uses pirated software. It is a factor that absolutely makes recognition or certification impossible. An organization that uses unlicensed programs will never obtain, for example, an ISO certification. And this consequence extends even to its clients, who may lose certifications if any of their suppliers incurs in illegal actions.

At Icalia we take care of every aspect of our operation, not only to avoid negative consequences, but also to give our clients the certainty that they are working with a professional, responsible and, above all, reliable company. Our quality extends to all aspects so that, with our help, our clients achieve their goals, even those that do not depend on our work.

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