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You don’t look like Jack Sparrow, so why are you a pirate?

Should you ever pirate software?

Arthur Gaplanyan

November 10, 2022

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Software Pirate

It’s crazy how much software costs sometimes. Especially when it’s a perpetual license or subscription to use it, then it seems astronomically expensive.  So, should you ever use a pirated copy of that software?

Trust me, I get it. Especially when you are just starting out and every penny counts. However, pirated software isn’t really about the money. It’s about a mental philosophy about running your business, and it’s about security.

It’s not being frugal, it’s being cheap.

It amazes me how many small and mid-sized businesses use pirated software to save a little money. A recent study by cybersecurity company Kaspersky shows that 24% of companies with 50-999 employees are willing to decrease IT spending by using pirated software alternatives. Compare that with companies with less than 50 employees, where only 8% are willing to use pirated software.

Kaspersky Pirated Software
Kaspersky Study Results by Type

I’m not surprised that Project Management tools and Sales and Marketing software are the top types of pirated software. What is surprising is that a staggering 56% of businesses would consider using pirated cybersecurity software as well. 

Let that sink in…

In case you are unaware (or as a reminder if you are), it is very common for pirated software to contain malware. Pirated software is an easy distribution platform for malware and will be installed along with the desired software. It will bypass your firewall, and even get you to approve its installation. It can spread the files across your network, to every device connected.

So to consider cyber security software from a pirated source is just… not smart.

The cost of fixing damage from exposure to malware will be far more than the cost of the software in the first place. Hopefully, possible to remedy the situation as well. If it leads to ransomware and/or company data sold on the dark web, there’s probably no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

If you’re “lucky”, then the malware will just use your hardware to mine cryptocurrency. That way your cost is expensive electrical bills and burnt-out hardware that needs to be replaced.  Still not an optimal scenario to be in.

We always advise our customers to purchase official software, and to do so from a reputable source. A poor source might provide you with counterfeit software.  Counterfeit software is usually valid software, but without valid licenses (or licenses that are illegal and get revoked later).

Clearly, there are security risks to be avoided. On top of that though, think about the philosophical approach to it.  IT is an integral part of your business. We are all averse to paying out money, but not when it benefits ourselves. Paying for IT isn’t an expense, it’s an investment.  Not wanting to pay for software for your business to use, function, and benefit from it is only robbing yourself.  Making that mental shift is the first step in securing your company.

There are additional actions you can take as well.

Make sure your employees have proper rights assigned. This prevents them from installing their own software, and possibly malware along with it.

There is free and/or open source software available, including security software. They frequently are toned down versions of paid software, missing some features. Though they are safe to use.

You can monitor your devices to ensure that they are running efficiently. If you notice they are running slow or hot, you might have a crypto miner installed.

Always update your applications and operating system when updates come out. Frequently they are patching vulnerabilities that were discovered.

Implement backups. Important files at the bare minimum, but full systems are even better. Have them stored in the cloud or on a specific backup device. This will give you access to your data even if ransomware encrypts the data on your network.

Have any questions about pirated software, alternatives, or creating a cyber security or backup plan? I’m happy to help, book a free consultation and we can discuss it.