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Why Pirated Software Is Bad For Business

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Up and down the country, businesses use pirated software, but many are unaware of the risks. We look at what can go wrong if you decide to follow this path.

Long before the internet ever came along, people have made unauthorised copies of objects and media. But as old as this practice is, the digital age has made it easier and faster to duplicate things than ever before. Millions of films, TV shows and songs get illegally shared every day – and the popularity of legal alternatives has done little to reverse the tide. Bearing this in mind, it’s probably no surprise that pirated software is widely shared too.

What might cause you to raise an eyebrow, though, is the number of businesses that use pirated software in their everyday operations. In a large number of cases, they don’t even know they’re doing it – because it’s their employees who are running these programs without the business’s knowledge.

But it’s also true that some organisations do it knowingly. If that sounds like your business, then please stop now. Aside from the moral argument against using pirated software, there are also a number of reasons why it could be bad for business.

Fines For Using Pirated Software

Despite the overall rate of software piracy dropping in the UK in recent years, the amount that businesses paid in fines and damages for this offence increased in 2016. According to BSA | The Software Alliance, the total cost went from £770,192 in 2015 to £914,587 in 2016.

Coin counting - pirated software
You’ll need every penny you can get if you’re fined for using pirated software

Just last year, a UK business paid £84,300 in damaged for using unlicensed design software. Looking back a bit further, this was neither an isolated case nor the largest fine. In 2007, an unnamed UK business agreed to pay an out-of-court settlement of £250,000 for running unlicensed copies of Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft applications.

On a more positive note, in 2010, the total fines reached £2.2 million, suggesting a long-term downward trend in piracy among UK businesses.

Pirated Software: A Safe Space For Malware

It’s not just the attention of copyright lawyers you need to worry about if you’re running pirated software. You also risk installing malware on your computers. Pirated files often contain viruses and spyware that could slow your systems down or even completely stop them running. As well as losing time and potentially business, you’ll also have to pay to get the problem fixed.

To make matters worse, you might find the malware you install is ransomware. If that happens, you’ll be locked out of your computers until you pay a ransom to the perpetrators.

Your problems won’t end there either. If any personal data about your staff or customers is compromised, you’ll possibly be slapped with fines from the EU for breaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Lack Of Support

All software, no matter how well made it is, can go wrong. For example, incompatibilities with other programs or hardware can cause computer crashes.

A good software developer, though, will quickly release patches to fix these problems, distributing them over the internet via a website download or an automated update process. But people running pirated software are not usually invited to this party; they simply don’t get the updates.

Not only does that mean they lose out on new features, they’ll also miss important security updates. That means that even if their pirated applications aren’t already filled with malware, they’re likely to be packed with security holes – which criminals will be more than happy to exploit.

Disgruntled Employees

The crackdown on pirated software among businesses owes a large part of its success to the very people who work for these organisations. Those who report the use of unlicensed software can receive a significant reward for their efforts. In the words of the BSA, “A reward of up to £10,000 is available for every report the BSA successfully concludes with a judgment or settlement. The reward is valued at 10% of the damages up to a maximum of £10,000.”

Even without the promise of cash, disgruntled employees could be more than willing to report infractions – if only for the satisfaction on getting one over on their bosses.

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat – any lawyer could tell you that. Well, any lawyer who speaks Latin, anyway. It means ‘ignorance of the law excuses no one’, and it’s one of the central tenets of our legal system.

Bear that in mind if your business is found to have been running illegal copies of software without your knowledge. Perhaps the fines might be smaller, but ultimately it’s still the business that will be held responsible for employees running dodgy software in the workplace.

Software piracy - in handcuffs
“I thought I could get away with it, guv” is unlikely to be seen as a valid excuse for piracy

Fortunately, you can keep on top of this in a number of different ways. For a start, you can prevent employees installing software on work computers without administration rights. You can also prevent access to your computer network from computers that aren’t registered to your business. And if you’re still in doubt, you can run full software audits, to see exactly whose running what and if they’re licensed to do so.

If you’re in any doubt about the issues discussed here, call us on 0333 900 9050 or email can help you weed out illegal software being used in your business, and make sure everything is above board and optimised for your needs.

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TMB Privacy Policy

Why do we hold personal data?

Like any business, TMB Group has to keep personal data about staff, clients and potential customers. When you fill in the contact form on our website, for example, we need to keep a record so we can get back to you. Data is also held so we can deliver our services and so we can provide useful information, such as security update news.

What data do we keep?
Depending on our relationship with you, we’ll hold information such as your first and last names, your email address, your phone number and your postal address. We will also possibly have details about your business and those who work for you. If you’re a customer, then we may have some of your banking detail so we’re able to accept payments for the services we provide.

How is your data stored?

As a responsible IT company, TMB stores personal data on secured computer systems. Anything that is archived will be placed on encrypted drives.

We do use third-party customer management software, Autotask, which means data may be stored on their servers, but only the data we need to deliver our services. The same goes for the Microsoft services we use, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which store information on Microsoft’s cloud servers. We also use Mailchimp for marketing purposes: to send emails and to manage subscriber lists.

These third parties are not permitted to share your data or to use it for marketing purposes. You can find Autotask’s privacy policy here: Microsoft’s privacy policy for Office 365 is here: Mailchimp’s policy is here:

How long do we keep your data?

We will keep your data in our systems until it is no longer relevant to our business, but you can request that we remove or update it at any time. We will also inform any relevant third parties of your request.

Access to your information

The key thing to remember is that your data belongs to you. That means you can request copies of your personal data any time you like, or to access and update it. You also have the right to be forgotten, so if you ask that we delete your data, we will do so or provide a valid reason why we are unable to. We will, of course, require proof of your identity before addressing any such request.

Depending on your request, your information may be provided to you electronically. In such cases, it will be provided in a commonly used format.

Unsubscribing and deletion

Unsubscribing is not the same as a request for us to delete personal data. If, for example, you unsubscribe from a mailing list, it is necessary to keep your email address on record to prevent marketing email from being sent to you. If we were to delete that information, we would have no way to tell if you have unsubscribed. Nevertheless, you still have the right to request erasure of your personal data.

Your right to complain

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the way your personal data is treated by us, you have the right to complain to a supervisory authority. In the UK, that would be the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

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Anyone who visits our website will automatically have data about them collected via Google Analytics. This gives us broad information about what people are doing on our website and which pages they are looking at. It does not provide us with personal information that could be used to identify individuals.


Cookies are small text files that web browsers receive from websites. They are stored on your computer, and they enable sites to do things like remember if you’ve visited before, if you’re a customer, what your preferences are and so on. You are entitled to view our website without them, but you may lose this kind of functionality if you do so.

International data transfers

Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this privacy policy.

Data controllers and processors

TMB is the controller for marketing activity and personal data/special category data we hold on our own employees, but we are the processor when processing our customers’ personal data (e.g. buying a licence for a named individual).  We  may use sub-processors for processing data given to us by customers.

What we won’t ever do is sell your data. And if you sign up to our mailing list, you’ll only receive marketing material from TMB as a result – no one else.

For any questions regarding your data, contact TMB’s technical director, Richard Shuker, at or write to us at A1 Endeavour Business Park, Penner Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1QN..