Make Sure Your Software Is Licensed, Or The BSA May Come Knocking
Despite what some songs say, the best things in life aren’t always free. Take, for instance, your software. If you or one of your employees find and download a “free” version of some business-critical application instead of properly purchasing a license, you risk catching the eye of the BSA.
Founded by Microsoft in 1988, the Software Alliance (also known as the BSA) is a union of some of the most recognizable names in computing today. Its purpose was to put an end to digital copyright infringement, a particularly important goal considering the rise in pirated software. However, the recent actions of the BSA have indicated that they are not afraid to get their hands a little dirty as they crack down on unlicensed business software.
For example, the BSA will often try to entice employees--both current and former--to report if their company is engaging in software licensing fraud by bribing them with a cash reward and a promise of complete anonymity. The BSA even makes it as easy as possible for an employee to find them, running advertisements on social media. If one of your employees is feeling resentful or undervalued, they may find this kind of offer quite tempting. What’s more, they could easily act upon this offer and your company could potentially find itself in hot water.
But, you may ask, what if I was not aware that my organization was running unlicensed software? The quick answer: it doesn’t matter. As a result, it is only more important for you to stay vigilant so that this kind of situation doesn’t cripple your business from the inside.
One simple way to ensure that your business is protected from the BSA’s oversight is to restrict which users are able to install new applications on your company's devices. Frankly, only your IT resources should be able to do so--greatly reducing the chance of one of your employees downloading and installing dangerous programs, keeping your business safer.
In addition to the implementation of user permissions, you need to make sure that the software that you are using is properly documented, with your license to use it ready to be presented at a moment’s notice. This is because most audits come as a surprise. Taking this into consideration, we suggest enlisting a third-party IT expert to run a comprehensive network audit on your behalf so you can locate any unlicensed software and attend to it before you have to deal with the consequences of an unexpected audit.
Network Management, Inc. can assist you in identifying unlicensed software on your network by providing an audit on your behalf, and not on the BSA’s. To check your network for shadow IT and unlicensed software installations, give us a call at (703) 848-9000.