- 14 Mar 2017 7:00 AM
In Hungary, unfortunately, only a small minority are aware of the how-tos of ethical software use, which may be seen as a result of cultural and economic factors. Almost everyone uses pirated software to a certain extent, unaware that the product may actually be legally available if they were willing to pay for it. Without further analysis of how that may affect your everyday work, let's focus on the risks posed by a lack of caution regarding software choice at the workplace.
Curiosity killed the user
We hope we're beyond having to explain why you should never plug a USB flash drive into your computer if you don't know where it came from. It's a rule of thumb you may also want to follow with your company notebook as much as your home PC. Without as much as a click, you could pick up a virus, a Trojan or any kind of malware which will take immense effort to wipe from your computer (that is, if you're can). And if it's your company device that starts leaking passwords or confidential data, you can expect some serious dressing-down.
Note that using illegally downloaded software is every bit as dangerous as plugging a USB drive of unknown origin into your computer. These programs usually come with a crack or a keygen application to trick them into running. And you will only find out what the creators have hidden in those codes when it's already too late. Sometimes, you're even kindly warned to turn off your antivirus software as it may show a false alarm. False alarm, sure... Still, most people ignore the risk and wittingly open themselves up to malicious attacks.
But even if the software itself is free from malware, you can wave goodbye to regular updates. And yes, these are usually supposed to patch up security breaches which may let attackers access your computer from afar.
It's almost a cliché (even if very few people take actual notice) that downloading pirated software is a crime in itself. And although the software police are highly unlikely to break down your door on a gloomy Saturday afternoon to check whether the Office package running on your computer is properly licensed, businesses often face unannounced inspections where you actually have to be able to prove that your software was legally purchased.
Even though most companies buy the operating systems for their computers, they are often stingier when it comes to purchasing office software packages, image editors and other useful additions.
If a company "encourages" you to use such software (say, as a graphic designer, you are forced to download torrented Photoshop, because the company won't pay for it) you have every right to be outraged. In such a case, you may want to push for buying the software, pointing out that it'll still be cheaper than forking out a potential hefty fine. On the other hand, if you're not in such a pinch, it's better to avoid unlicensed software because if the next inspection ends up costing your two-month salary, your boss is unlikely to take it lightly.
Licence and registration, please
Which doesn't mean that you're not allowed to install anything on your work computer, that you have to keep the gentle Windows XP slopes as your background, and that you must always use Internet Explorer for browsing. Every software has alternatives that are available for free and will suit you perfectly in your everyday work.