How Genuine Software Protects the Industry and Your Personal Security

It’s a sad fact that software piracy is a problem faced by computer markets around the world. Whether it’s in the United States, Europe, or even the Asia Pacific Region, software piracy is a risk to both the sustainability of the software industry, as well as your personal information and computer hardware. In a digital age where computer systems are almost infinitely connected, it’s more important than ever to use only genuine software, obtained through reputable distribution channels.

Software Piracy in 2014

The United States is the world’s largest market for software, so it’s also the largest market at risk of software piracy. Copied programs and unlicensed installs are not as prevalent in the United States as in other countries, but non-genuine software still makes up 19% of the software installed on computers in this market. For a market that spends almost $42 billion per year on software, this is a significant figure.

Software piracy is not just found in cracked and unlicensed programs that are downloaded from the internet or purchased on discs, but even computers obtained from independent retailers and private computer technicians may be loaded with copied software.

It’s important to remember that if you have not purchased new software from an official retailer, there’s a high probability that you’re using non-genuine or unlicensed software.

Copied Software Hurts the Industry

Software developers can spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a single software product. Pirating that software impacts their revenue stream, which can drive prices up for other consumers. In extreme cases piracy has the potential to force smaller developers out of business.

Piracy is the same as theft. Using genuine software ensures that the effort of every individual developer, tester, and those in the retail and distribution channels is fairly rewarded. Using copied software means that you are essentially stealing their intellectual property and damaging their business model.

Why is it Important to use genuine software?

Besides the fact that copied software and unlicensed programs are against the law, the use of non-genuine software could put you at risk of data theft, damage to file systems, and data loss. More often than not, pirated software also introduces a myriad of viruses, malware, and spyware on to your computer.

In the United States software piracy is a criminal offense that can be punished by imprisonment of up to 7 years, and/or a fine of up to $250,000. It doesn’t matter if you’ve downloaded or purchased a single non-genuine program, or if you’re distributing copied software, any form of piracy is subject to these laws. Crimes relating to software piracy are prosecuted at a federal level, and laws are enforced by the FBI and the Department of Justice. The justice system is often lenient on private individuals who are caught pirating or using copied software. However for businesses running pirated software and those who distribute copied software for profit, the consequences are typically much worse and could irreparably damage a reputation and lead to financial ruin..

Even ignoring the criminal element, the other risks that come from copied software are severe. Obtaining copied software could mean that you’re not receiving the software in its original condition. It’s important to use only genuine software because any program obtained illegally could be compromised with additional code designed to disrupt operations on your computer, or even perform more dangerous activities like key logging and data theft.

Security analysts who investigate copied software regularly find additional programs that can take your files and distribute them to third parties. This software may also use your computer for illegal activities without your knowledge, or install viruses and malware which compromise your credit card numbers, bank account details, emails, and more.

Consider that an operating system like Microsoft Windows has access to all of the data stored on your personal computer. If you were running a copied version of this software that had been compromised, there’s potential for third parties to access any of your personal data. All that they would need is a small undetectable program running on your machine while it is connected to the internet. Only the use of genuine software can eliminate this kind of risk.

Even if copied software is distributed without malicious code, it’s likely that that software would be unable to receive regular updates in the same way a licensed copy would. This could open up your computer to security risks that would otherwise be patched by the software developer throughout the lifetime of the product.

It Simply Makes Sense to Use Genuine Software

It would be almost impossible for anyone to present an argument that supports using copied software. Using genuine software ensures that as an end user you receive only the original program contents. At the same time you will be supporting the software industry, protecting yourself from the risk of data loss or theft, and of course you will be avoiding prosecution for breach of software piracy laws.