July 3, 2014

Download Illegal Software, Upload Your Business to Hackers

By Ashley Mergen

I have a bone to pick- I never really understood those cellphone cases that double as wallets. You know, those cases that show off your credit cards and IDs every time you take a call or open your phone to check Facebook? However convenient, flapping around your financials strikes me as relatively unsecure, leaving convenience-lovers prone to theft.

But what irks me even more is that this is probably more secure than what we’re encountering online on a daily basis. Through illegal downloads, purchasing online counterfeits, or frequenting rather nefarious sites, we might as well just physically hand our credit card and personal information to shady web vendors.

The most recent edition of the annual Global Software Survey by BSA—The Software Alliance shows that while the prevalence of unlicensed and pirated software has grown, so, too, have the private and financial risks to consumers.

Illicit software is providing cyber spies and criminals with the keys directly into our home computers, phones, and gadgets. But while hacking can range from a mild nuisance (call your bank and get a new card!) to a drawn-out hell (years of trying to regain control of your identity or restore a credit score), the problems it poses to businesses is anything but benign.

Illegal software is also a gateway to company information systems- the main artery of businesses big and small where proprietary, financial, and sensitive information are usually stored and secured. And unfortunately, the risks are high and only growing with MacAfee finding that cyber (in)security is costing businesses, consumers, and the global economy $400 billion globally. The BSA study, furthermore, reports that 64% and 59% of IT managers are worried about hacking and loss of data, respectively. In fact, businesses are getting extremely concerned by cyber security, weighing it as more important to protect against than other traditional risks, ranging from business interruptions to natural disasters and theft.

So here we have ourselves in an interesting situation. Intellectual property theft (unlicensed, contaminated software) is leading to even further IP theft (trade secrets, etc), which leads us into a whole host of security, economic, and privacy issues too voluminous to enumerate. But what’s the solution? The first buck stops with companies and individuals in remaining vigilant about legal, licensed software installations. The second tier focuses on seek business-to-business solutions to take measureable steps at disrupting the business models of these IP hackers. And finally, taking a look at government funding and the institutional framework for enforcement efforts aimed at halting these e-leeches.

To learn how to avoid Dangerous Fakes online and in the stores, please visit www.DangerousFakes.com to learn more.

Subscribe for updates from GIPC