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Australian businesses still unsure about software licensing

  • 11 February, 2004 14:16

<p>Survey shows 62 percent of companies have no clear policy</p>
<p>Brisbane-based company describes SAM as "painful but very worthwhile”</p>
<p>Australian businesses are continuing to put themselves at risk of security breaches as well as legal and financial penalties due to complacency and ignorance of how to manage their software, according to an online survey conducted by the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA).</p>
<p>In an online questionnaire posted as part of the BSAA’s latest campaign to help Small and Medium Enterprises with Software Asset Management (SAM), 42 percent of businesses responding said they did not have correct software licenses and 52 percent admitted they have no idea whether employees have downloaded or made illegal copies of software.</p>
<p>Only 38 percent of companies responding have a clear company policy on software use and management, according to the poll, which the BSAA says is alarming as the risk of viruses and security breaches continues to increase.</p>
<p>“Owners and managers of businesses need to strictly manage what’s on their computer systems and how their computers are used,” BSAA chairman, Jim Macnamara, said.</p>
<p>“To not carefully monitor and manage computer networks and systems is like leaving the back door of your office open day and night. The security risks are very high in terms of worm viruses received through e-mail or downloads – and there is a high likelihood that unlicensed software is in use leaving a business open to copyright infringement penalties,” he said.</p>
<p>One company that has found out the hard way that software management requires regular surveillance is Brisbane-based In Learning. After being reported to the BSAA for breaches of copyright and illegal software use, In Learning’s director, Richard Gordon, conducted a thorough audit of all his computers with the assistance of the BSAA and found, to his horror, that some of his staff had extensively downloaded illegal MP3 files as well as unauthorised and unlicensed software and shareware.</p>
<p>In Learning now follows BSAA’s Software Asset Management (SAM) recommendations. It has adopted a written company policy on software management, conducts regular audits of its computers using a software audit tool and has installed a software program that 'locks down' workstations so staff can’t install software without authority. It has also consolidated all licensing documentation and physically secured all software products.</p>
<p>As part of its ‘clean-up’ process, In Learning had to pay a A$45,000 financial settlement to the BSAA for software copyright breaches, as well as purchasing all the correct software licenses.</p>
<p>According to Richard Gordon, the audit process was enlightening and a real wake-up call for the business. An unexpected bonus was that the audit resulted in significant financial benefits.</p>
<p>“During our audit process we found that one machine had more than 400 illegal music files, while others were loaded up with illegal software and shareware utilities. As a management team we had been complacent about software management, despite being involved in the IT industry and as a result, some of our staff didn’t understand the implications of illegal software use.</p>
<p>“However, the benefits from the whole audit process have been exceptional. In the first month following our audit and clean up, we benefited from a $650 saving in bandwidth fees – extrapolated over the next 12 months, that is going to be a significant saving for our business. We will also be able to reduce our upgrade fees by tens of thousands of dollars simply because we now accurately know what software we have and require. Overall our business processes and systems have been updated and simplified and we are seeing real benefits in improved productivity, financial savings and sheer peace of mind,” he said.</p>
<p>“I would urge every business to take time to review their software licenses,” said Mr Gordon. “Software asset management is just as important to a business as cash management and the whole process has definitely had a silver lining.”</p>
<p>The BSA can support business in understanding how to manage their software more effectively. The BSA provides the tools and resources on its web site as well as a step by step guide to implement a SAM process. For more information please visit</p>
<p>Other companies are also realizing the value of SAM. The BSAA website includes information on a number of small and large businesses who have are SAM advocates, including St. George Bank, Mirvac, Aequi Design, True Blue Print and others.</p>
<p>The survey was conducted online by the BSAA between October 2003 and January 2004. A total of 194 companies responded. Overall the survey found that small to medium businesses and organisations are most at risk, usually because they do not have a dedicated IT person and many had very few controls in place. Other survey results included:</p>
<p>- Only 45 percent of businesses surveyed have conducted a software audit;
- 20 percent of respondents admitted they had not acquired their software from a reputable source;
- 15 percent of respondents reported they did not know exactly how many PCs, laptops and servers their business currently has in use.</p>
<p>As part of its latest campaign, the BSAA is offering incentives to businesses and organisations to take up its Software Asset Management tools and procedures offer free of charge on its Web site – . Businesses or organisations that download software management tools or resources from the BSAA site will go in a draw to win a number of training packages to the value of $1,200 each through the Australian Institute of Management. The training is not restricted to IT – winners can choose from any of the AIM’s training courses. The final draw for this competition will take place on 16 March 2004.</p>
<p>More information:</p>
<p>Toll-free hotline for public inquiries (anonymously if preferred): 1800 021 143
BSAA Web site:</p>
<p>Media release submitted by Pru Quinlan of Einsteinz Communications on behalf of the BSAA
Tel: 0405 100 585 or</p>
<p>About BSAA</p>
<p>The Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) is affiliated with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which operates globally in 65 countries. BSAA members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Borland, Macromedia, Microsoft and Symantec.</p>
<p>BSA ( members develop the software, hardware and the technologies building electronic commerce. Principal issues include copyright protection, cyber security, trade, e-commerce and public policy initiatives that impact the Internet. BSA members Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Bentley Systems, Borland, Cisco Systems, CNC Software/Mastercam, HP, IBM, Intel, Internet Security Systems, Intuit, Macromedia, Microsoft, Network Associates, PeopleSoft, RSA Security, SolidWorks, Sybase, Symantec, UGS PLM Solutions and VERITAS Software.</p>

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