Jim Macnamara, BSAA chairman, says, “In today’s age of computer viruses and worms, spam, counterfeit software, broadband internet downloading and increasing autonomy of information workers, owners and managers of businesses need to strictly manage what’s on their computer systems”.
The BSAA has launched a free Software Asset Management programme for businesses and organisations to help them reduce technological and legal risks that the BSAA says are endemic in almost every business and organisation.
Macnamara says most owners of computers paid careful attention to the hardware, but “it’s the software that controls what the computer does and it’s the software where the risks lie”.
According to the BSAA, the biggest computer-related risks to businesses and organisations are: viruses or worms which can destroy their data and bring down their operations; downloads of unauthorised material from the internet; and legal risks posed by installation, downloading or running of unlicensed software.
“All these actions are done through software. Software on computers must be carefully monitored and managed. To not do so is like leaving the back door of your office open day and night,” Macnamara says.
The BSAA‚s Software Asset Management program involves a new web site (www.bsaa.com.au) which offers free information and management tools. This includes: a Software Asset Manual, a comprehensive guide to managing software; checklists and tips on how to identify risks, assessment and audit forms for tracking software installed; links to software tools for monitoring what is installed and running on computers and networks; and links to training resources.
The BSAA Software Asset Management Program covers four key steps: reviewing your software; rectification of problem areas; training of employees; and ongoing management.
“Our aim has been to make the task of monitoring and managing software on computers and networks simple and easy for business owners and managers,” Macnamara says.
The BSAA says that small to medium businesses and organisations are most at risk. According to Macnamara, large corporations and government agencies had dedicated IT staff and consultants and increasingly employed strict management procedures on their computer networks. But he says small and medium organisations usually did not have a dedicated IT person and many had very few controls in place.
BSAA research has found that one in every three software programs being used in Australia are illegal.
“Unlicensed software exposes users and directors of businesses and organisation where it is used to potentially hefty fines or civil damages. Some companies and organisations in Australia have had to pay out more than $100,000 for using illegal software,” says Macnamara.
“In addition, the same lack of controls and management of software on computer systems exposes businesses and organisations to viruses and worms which can be introduced through e-mail or Web downloads, as well as possible downloading of other illicit materials including pornography.
“If you don‚t want viruses, worms, illegal software and other illicit or unwanted materials in your business or organisation, you must lock your electronic doors and have regular surveillance of your computer systems.
“The new BSAA Web site is a starting point for businesses, organisations or individuals wanting to find out what they need to do and how to go about protecting themselves. As well, they can get free advice from the BSAA on a toll-free hotline.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter