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BSA Global Survey Reveals Security Concerns With Unlicensed Software — and Points to the Solution

Of all the priorities CIOs and IT managers are juggling these days — from cloud to mobility to data analytics — surveys find that cybersecurity is what keeps them up at night. And there’s good reason for that: Symantec dubbed 2013 the “Year of the Mega Breach” while the Economist Intelligence Unit found that more than 75 percent of organizations suffered a security incident in the past two years causing major system disruption or loss of sensitive data.

In this threat environment, the newly released 2013 edition of BSA’s bi-annual Global Software Survey finds that IT managers cite security threats from malware as the top reason to avoid unlicensed software. Among their specific concerns are intrusions by hackers and loss of data. Those concerns are not unreasonable. Yet a surprising 43 percent of the software installed on PCs around the world in 2013 was not properly licensed, at a commercial value of $62.7 billion. So while companies are justifiably worried, they are failing to act.

In fact, BSA’s Global Software Survey found that less than half of IT managers are confident their companies’ software is properly licensed, and only 35 percent of companies have written policies requiring use of properly licensed software. That is particularly striking when you consider the correlation between company policies and employee behavior: The survey found that at companies with written policies, 50 percent of employees say they never use unlicensed software, whereas at companies without written policies almost 60 percent of employees say they use unlicensed software frequently.

The good news is, this is a problem that can be solved. There are common-sense steps IT managers can take to track and manage their organizations’ software licenses:

  • First, know what’s on your system by keeping track of all software installations and ensuring your organization has the appropriate licenses for them;
  • Establish a formal, written policy and communicate it out to employees;
  • Adopt sound software asset management (SAM) practices.

SAM programs such as BSA’s Verafirm can help companies stay compliant and generate more value from their software. SAM ensures the right controls are in place to avoid security and operational risks while giving companies a full view of what is installed on their networks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Global Software Survey found that IT managers at companies with SAM programs in place are the most confident their software is properly licensed.

To read the full study, including estimated rates and commercial values of the unlicensed PC software installed last year in more than 100 countries around the world, visit

Jodie Kelley


Jodie L. Kelley leads BSA’s domestic and international compliance & enforcement programs including its copyright-enforcement activities, its compliance policy work, its efforts against Internet crime, and its educational programs to promote software license compliance and respect for intellectual property. Kelley serves as BSA’s general counsel for all corporate matters and manages BSAs’ compliance & enforcement programs and counsel in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Representing the largest copyright-based industry, BSA operates in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Prior to joining BSA, Kelley served for six years as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored enterprise chartered by Congress to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the US housing and mortgage markets. There, she was responsible for managing the company’s litigation portfolio and its responses to various governmental inquiries. She also was responsible for advising the company on issues including antitrust and anti-fraud. Previously, she was a partner at Jenner & Block in Washington, where she specialized in civil and regulatory litigation and handled cases before trial and appellate courts and regulatory agencies throughout the country.

Kelley is a native of New Orleans, and a member of the Board of Directors of Commonwealth Academy. She earned her JD from Harvard Law School and BSS from The Pennsylvania State University.

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