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Closing the Software Compliance Gap

You would think that the people managing your company's computer network would know what software is installed on it. But, in many cases, that's not the case.

You would think that the people managing your company's computer network would know what software is installed on it. But, in many cases, that's not the case.

If fact, less than half the world's IT managers say they are very confident that all the software in their organisations is properly licensed -- even though they express concerns that unlicensed software can leave computers vulnerable to security threats.

A recent study from BSA | The Software Alliance shines light on this issue and points to the need for companies to get their houses in better order.

The BSA Global Software Survey finds that the chief reason IT managers cite for not using unlicensed software is avoiding security threats from malware. Among their main concerns are intrusions by hackers and loss of data. Yet the report finds that 24 percent of the software installed in the UK in 2013 was unlicensed.

That means too many people are failing to take appropriate action.

Businesses in particular have a great deal to lose from cybersecurity breach incidents: Customer information is put at risk, proprietary business information can be stolen by hackers, and the public relations impact of a breach can be disastrous for a business and its executives. Governments and public sector organisations with improperly licensed software on their computers also leave themselves vulnerable to unauthorised access to sensitive data and critical infrastructures.

But sound software compliance policies can help, and there are simple steps businesses and governments can take to track and manage software licenses. According to the survey, only 35 percent of companies around the world have a formal, written policy on software licensing in place. The survey also found that only 48 percent of IT managers are confident their company's software is properly licensed. That means more than half of IT managers think it's possible their company uses unlicensed software.

BSA encourages companies in the UK to take the following steps to ensure software is properly licensed:

• Establish a formal, written policy and carefully log all software deployed in the organisation.

• Conduct employee workshops and regular software audits to ensure the business, big or small, maintains compliance.

• Consider implementation of a robust software asset management (SAM) program that can help your company stay compliant and generate maximum value from your software.

SAM ensures that controls are in place to avoid security and operational risks and give you a full view of what is installed on the network. Our survey found that IT managers at companies with SAM programs in place are the most confident their software is properly licensed.

Company policies matter, and in the 21st century IT compliance is a key competitive differentiator. All organisations should take steps to ensure they are using properly licensed software. For more information on how to better manage software in your organisation, visit us at