Unlicensed software and malware are tightly linked

18:02 | 12/05/2015 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Malware infections can cause significant harm and organizations are struggling with how best to protect themselves. The organizations may reduce the risk of cybersecurity incidents by eliminating unlicensed software on their networks.

Unlicensed software and malware are tightly linked

Risky business: Malware threats from unlicensed software

A recent study entitled “Unlicensed Software and Cybersecurity Threats” commissioned by BSA The Software Alliance confirmed the link between unlicensed software and malware on PCs.

“The study’s results showed that there is a strong positive correlation between unlicensed software and malware encounters - the higher the unlicensed software rate in a country, the more malware generally encountered on PCs in that country, and vice versa. In statistical terms, the correlation between unlicensed software and malware is even higher than the correlation between smoking and lung cancer, and higher than the correlation between education and income. For Vietnam, this is a sign that warrants serious attention,” said Roland Chan, Senior Director, Compliance Program, Asia Pacific, BSA.

According to the report, in 2013 the unlicensed software rate for the US was 18 percent and the malware encounter rate averaged 13 percent per quarter.  In Indonesia, the figures were 84 percent and 44 percent. In Vietnam they are 81 percent and 32 percent.

“The employment of unlicensed software places organizations, both domestic and foreign, at risk of a cybersecurity attack. This illegal software simply does not have the necessary safeguards in place when compared to licensed software, which would normally benefit from regular updates to counter any security loopholes that may exist. The cybersecurity threat may include malware intrusions, some of which may result in further security loopholes that allow hackers to enter a network.  Studies have shown that enterprises using illegal software will have a 73 percent higher risk of losing important data, and a higher risk of virus infection,” added Chan.

It is time to use genuine software and good software management

According to Colonel Nguyen Van Thinh, deputy head of the Department of Cyber Security under the Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam has recently become the main target of a series of large-scale cyber spying activities such as LURID, Operation Shady RAT and the Byzantine Hades attacks. In 2014 alone, the ministry had discovered that nearly 6,000 Vietnamese online news pages and online news portals were attacked, losing administrative rights and its contents were amended. Out of them, 246 pages were of government’s agencies, ending with the domain name gov.vn.

Typically, 745 websites in Vietnam were attacked in one week from late August to early September 2014. Another attack on a series of large websites by hackers in five days from October 13-18, 2014 recently caused enterprises using VCCorp’s data center a loss of billions of Vietnamese dongs.

Roland Chan, Senior Director, Compliance Program, Asia Pacific, BSA, “In my viewpoint, given the clear link between cybersecurity threats and unlicensed software, one of the simplest ways for enterprises and governments to better safeguard their assets is to ensure that the software they are running is genuine and fully licensed. Ensuring the software installed on IT systems is licensed and comes from a legitimate source is a good first line of defense.”

To lower cybersecurity risks, BSA encourages organizations to implement internal controls, such as ISO-aligned software asset management (SAM) practices, in order to reduce their exposure to cyber threats by ensuring all software installed on their systems is fully licensed.

For enterprises, governments, and consumers, the obvious implication is that one way to lower cybersecurity risks is to reduce the use of unlicensed software. Doing so requires implementing effective software management policies and procedures and investing resources in increasing awareness of the potential dangers associated with using unlicensed software. The dangers lurk in malware that can be embedded in the software, in the sites and sources from which the malware is obtained, and in the reluctance of users of unlicensed software to install security updates. But the evidence shows that unlicensed software is clearly associated with security threats from malware - the global costs of which run into the hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

By Minh Ly

Theo ven.vn