In the business world, information is king. Companies that operate in the digital age rely on Software to run their businesses, from communication and collaboration tools to accounting and inventory management systems. While a wide variety of Software is available as open-source or freeware, most companies purchase commercial-grade Software to ensure they have the latest features and updates.
However, with this comes the risk of software piracy—unauthorized copying or use of commercial-grade Software. Software piracy can be a huge problem for companies, costing them millions in lost revenue annually. So, why do companies need protection against software piracy? Let’s take a look.
What is Software Piracy, and how does it work?
Software piracy uses Software illegally and without permission from the owner/ developer of the Software used.
This means buying a second-hand application, downloading a crack on P2P Software such as uTorrent rather than paying for it afresh on its official website or authorized dealer outlets, or making illegal copies of discs containing programs so one can install them multiple times on different devices with different configurations.
Many software companies choose to take legal action against software pirates; after all, the Software is legally protected with copyrights and trademarks, just like books, movies, photographs, etc.
Why do Companies Need Software Piracy?
Software industry estimates state that the software piracy rate worldwide in 2012 was 39% of total usage or $59 billion worth of lost revenue for software producers. If one adds up this number, it is almost 2 times the revenue the entire music industry earned for that period.
Companies usually need software protection because they want to stop software piracy.
The figures are astonishing; over 53% of Software produced gets pirated while companies spend millions on creating that Software; this means that it’s very important for companies to protect their Software against copyright infringement.
That isn’t all; some studies show that only 15% of users who use one or more software products pay for them, while 85% get the said Software free in various ways like downloading it from the Internet, receiving pirated media, or sharing with friends, etc.
The software industry would suffer more damage without licensing its software products for use by end-users. So, it is not surprising how many software companies spend millions on software piracy protection yearly.
Software Piracy Types
Software piracy may be divided into five categories. This diversity of pirating strategies explains why some intentionally pirate Software while others may be unwitting accomplices.
Softlifting occurs when someone buys one version of the Software and installs it on many computers, although the program licensing only allows one download.
This is common in corporate and school settings and is generally done to save money. The most widespread sort of software piracy is softlifting.
2. Overuse of client-server
When too many individuals on a network simultaneously utilize the same primary copy of the Software, this is known as client-server overuse.
This frequently occurs when a company uses a local area network and downloads Software for its workers.
This is software piracy if the licensing does not allow you to use it several times.
3. Loading the hard drive
Hard disc loading is a sort of commercial software piracy in which someone purchases a legal version of the Software and then copies, installs, or reproduces it on computer hard drives. The individual then sells the product.
This frequently occurs in PC resale shops, where customers are unaware that purchasing additional Software is unlawful.
When software programs are unlawfully replicated and marketed under the guise of authenticity, this is known as counterfeiting. Counterfeit Software is frequently supplied at a lower cost compared to authorized Software.
5. Piracy on the Internet
When illicit Software is sold, exchanged, or acquired on the Internet, it is called online Piracy. This is often accomplished via a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing mechanism on online auction sites and blogs.
Software Piracy and Its Consequences
Although software piracy has a lower cost, there are other risks that software pirates should be aware of.
Software piracy has the following consequences:
- Increased likelihood of software failure or malfunction.
2. Access to program support, such as training, updates, customer service, and bug patches, is no longer available.
- There is no guarantee, and the program cannot be upgraded.
- Malware, viruses, and adware are more likely to infect your computer.
- PC has slowed down.
- Copyright infringement has legal ramifications.
Only buy Software from authorized sellers to keep your PC safe. Make sure you understand and agree to the terms and conditions of any program you use. Panda Security’s Free Antivirus for Mac and Windows devices will protect your device from any future attacks.
How to Stop Software Piracy?
Copyright protection mechanisms aren’t infallible, and even when copyrights and patents are used, content owners still have to deal with various issues related to software piracy.
What can be done to combat software piracy? It’s a crucial topic, and the solution is hard – and there are several approaches.
5 strategies to keep Software Piracy at bay
- End-user agreements, copyrights, and patents
Copyrights and patents can be used to protect Software. These provide legal protection for firms’ intellectual property and electronic inventions. End-user agreements go into further detail about what a consumer may do with a piece of Software.
Purchasers are regarded as users, not owners, as the term implies. Agreements define what individuals are allowed and not allowed to do with the program. They can’t, for example, duplicate it without permission or distribute it to more people than their license permits.
Of course, individuals continue to engage in such behavior, which is where the rest of the anti-piracy tactics come into play.
- Product keys for Software
Each purchaser’s software product key is unique. The Software will not start or install unless the user fills in the key. Because anyone who wants to distribute protected Software can manufacture keys with their codes, the purpose of product keys is to reduce end-user Piracy.
Because the key depends on the user’s specific machine, a hardware-locked software key is one of the most powerful.
Obfuscation is making the source code of a product incomprehensible to humans. Complex algorithms can alter software code to make it look random or disguise it as something else.
However, obfuscation isn’t foolproof, as an attacker can decipher the source code with enough time.
As a result, obfuscation is frequently employed with tamper-proofing, the next technique on our list.
- Software that cannot be tampered with
Tamper-proof Software is made to be resistant to tampering and reverse engineering.
To get past authentication, stop security monitoring, or bypass the license code to generate illicit copies, attackers tamper with a piece of Software.
The application will shut down or malfunction if an attacker modifies a portion of the source code.
- Software Watermarking
A watermark can also be included in the source code of the Software. This watermark is included in the Software and can establish ownership or origin when removed. This traceability may deter criminals from creating unauthorized copies.
Similarly, forensic watermarking is a new tool for preventing movie piracy due to recent advancements in blockchain development. It’s accomplished by subtly altering particular pixel colors in a video clip that are undetectable to the naked eye. This also shows who owns the product.
How to find the right software piracy solution for your company?
Finding the best anti-piracy Software for your organization might be difficult. It isn’t easy to choose among so many alternatives. This section will explain the various software piracy solutions to know what solution would fit your specific business requirements.
Types of Software Piracy Solutions
Look at the many anti-piracy solutions available and discover which best suits your needs.
- Anti Piracy Application
They help prevent internal users from unlawfully copying and distributing digital data, but they do not prevent exterior copies or Internet access. Subtypes of this sort of anti-piracy system include:
- Watermarking Application
A watermark is a temporary data file that may be applied to any digital media to verify its validity. Watermarks are used to identify media duplication or dissemination. Watermarking works by inserting a tiny file into your digital assets (for example, images and videos).
This file is appended to the original and cannot be deleted without causing damage. When someone downloads a watermarked image, they are told by the source to know it is not being distributed unlawfully.
- Tag-Based Application
Using file tags in pictures or videos, a tag-based anti-piracy technology detects online replication or distribution of copyrighted information. This information is not readily replicated or altered.
These tags are unique to each protected object, preventing duplication of information and easy identification.
- Web-Based Application
An online database allows authorized staff to track daily employee and consumer piracy of protected content. This software tracks and audits frozen assets like digital files (images, videos, or audio).
Staff may go in at any time to see what files have been viewed, who has the licenses, and how many times they’ve been disseminated.
Your network administrator will be alerted if several copies are accessible for download or if someone outside your network attempts to download it illegally.
Larger firms with many files to secure typically utilize these anti-piracy systems.
- Anti-Piracy Solutions
These solutions focus on preventing unauthorized individuals from obtaining digital material through the Internet. Subtypes of this sort of anti-piracy system include:
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) Application
A deep packet inspection application scans all data entering or leaving your company’s network for protected objects.
DPI apps show you what is happening on your network, including copying and moving files. If you see protected content leaving your company, you may take fast action to stop it.
- Endpoint Solution
An endpoint solution works by installing Software on business computers that control what is copied onto USB drives, CDs, and DVDs.
Endpoint solutions are the cheapest way to prevent software piracy. They monitor what is transferred to external devices and only allow unprotected data to be copied (such as documents).
Educating the workforce about the limits of various anti-piracy software tools is vital.
- Proxy Server Application
A proxy server program, commonly known as a web filtering solution, allows you to monitor distant downloads.
These anti-piracy technologies function by routing all Internet traffic via a single site to scan for protected products.
Any protected materials downloaded or distributed outside the business network will warn you.
- Real-Time Scanning (RTS) Application
A real-time scanning application continuously monitors data entering and exiting your company’s network looking for software piracy issues.
RTS programs allow you to track user-to-user file transfers and view extensive activity logs.
The IT manager will be notified immediately if an illegal copy is found.
- Monitoring and Reporting Applications
These solutions focus on monitoring and reporting to keep track of your protected information and have a clear perspective of your company’s assets. This category includes anti-piracy measures such as:
- Application Monitoring Application
An application monitor application collects information about protected assets being used or copied without authorization. If illegal access or activity happens, alerts will be provided to authorized employees so they may take action.
This sort of pirate prevention system lets you know who accessed what file, when, and where, and other helpful information like how frequently and where it was copied to a CD or DVD.
- Database Logging
Database logging isn’t typically deemed anti-piracy because enterprises primarily employ it to monitor network activities. This form of security allows you to track who is utilizing what files and warns you if they are duplicated outside your company’s network.
- License Compliance Solution
A license compliance solution ensures that no corporate assets are duplicated or distributed unlawfully by maintaining correct licensing for any protected material within your organization.
You will be notified if a licensed item is removed from the company without prior consent. Control what is duplicated on portable devices entering your company’s network using compliance solutions and anti-piracy technologies.
The monitoring software would stop a user from attempting to copy protected information onto a USB drive using an endpoint anti-piracy solution since protected content cannot be accessed.
- Solution Integrator
A solution integrator collects data on your company’s activities, including file transfers. The integrator can monitor everything within the company’s network, allowing you to see who is copying what files. This way, you’ll know when sensitive data is shared outside your company.
Software piracy is a growing problem, both for businesses and consumers. Businesses cannot afford to have their intellectual property stolen by competitors trying to undercut them on price.
The good news is with the right anti-piracy solution in place, companies of all sizes can protect themselves against this costly issue and keep their customers safe from harm.
When selecting a solution, look out for these two things: 1) Is the service provider able to detect all forms of malware? 2) Does their pricing model suit your needs?
If you think your business could be at risk from software piracy, contact us today! We’ll help you find the best solution for protecting yourself against these threats, so you don’t pay more than necessary down the road.
Abhinav Sathyamurthy is a professional blogger with over six years of experience covering technical topics such as blockchain, ERP, AI, and other matters.