Microsoft warns SMBs of software piracy perils


Microsoft and the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) have launched a campaign, dubbed Play It Safe, to raise awareness of the business problems caused by using counterfeit software.

According to Microsoft commissioned research, carried out by analyst IDC, 30 per cent of businesses are at risk of infection by unexpected malware through using pirated software.

The research was conducted across ten geographies, including the UK, where results showed there was a particular problem in the SMB market when it came to using counterfeit software.

Speaking to IT Pro, Michala Wardell, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft UK, also referenced a recent study by the BSA, which revealed 52 per cent of UK small businesses have either bought or are running some kind of illegal software.

"In the UK, SMBs are definitely increasing their piracy consumption, and as a result are having a whole host of problems, such as identity theft and credit card fraud," said Wardell.

"They then have to spend many, many hours trying to reverse the impact the counterfeit had on their business, [which can impact their profits]."

Wardell said SMBs were being disproportionately affected by the problem because very few small businesses use software asset management.

"They have not yet realised the value [such an] investment can have on their business," she said.

Meanwhile, Alex Hilton, chief executive of anti-piracy body FAST, claimed the small profit margins of SMBs were also a factor.

"[Smaller businesses] are less concerned about things like software asset management. What they are concerned about is paying their bills, getting the money in from their customers and keeping the lights on," he said.

Both said cloud was reducing the consumption of counterfeit software, and that the Play It Safe campaign would help to raise awareness of the risks of pirated material.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.