Software piracy is among the root causesof high cyber security risks in Thailand, and in order toreduce cyber risks, the use of illegal and unlicensed software must be reduced.
This is but one message in the newly launched Safe Software, Safe Nation campaign, a national campaign intended tosimultaneoulsy reduce the use of illegal and unlicensed software and address the constantly evolving cyber security threat.
Safe Software, Safe Nation is led by the Economic Crime Division (ECD) police, the Department of Intellectual Property and the Association of Thai Software Industry. Together, these organizations seek to gain greater cooperation from the public sector and private sector to enhance security. Police will crackdown on corporate users and sellers of illegal software.
“Using legal software is one of the first steps in improving cyber security,” said ECD Deputy Commander, Pol. Col. Kittisak Plathong. “And in addition to this there must be awareness about how to improve security, there must be training and information for people to protect themselves.”
Education is a critical part of Safe Software, Safe Nation. Under the campaign, practical advice and international best practices will be provided on how to use and manage software to protect the business community and the general public against malware attacks and other risks. This campaign will invoke the nation’s shared responsibility in creating a legal and safe cyber environment.
“We fully support the Safe Software, Safe Nation campaign and will coordinate our work to promote legal and licensed software use,” said Mr. Thosapone Dansuputra the Deputy Director General of the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), adding “The campaign will also strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, which is a serious matter for the credibility of Thailand, as well as promoting innovation and creativity.”
The Safe Software, Safe Nation campaign is guided by recent statement of Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha: “Not buying, using or selling pirated items is the correct approach to this problem.” The campaign is also informed by the immense negative impact of cyber threats on the economy and national security. Last year, attacks on Thai government web sites increased by 30 percent.
For years, the government has increased its efforts to reduce the use of illegal and unlicensed software among the businesscommunity and consumers. The decline of unlicensedsoftware in Thailand is among the fastest in the ASEAN region over the last decade.Today, approximately 71 percent of the software installed on personal computers in Thailand is not properly licensed.
“We need greater reductions in the use of illegal and unlicensedsoftware. The rate of 71 percent is still well above Asia Pacific’s average rate of 62 percent,” said Pol. Col. Kittisak. “High levels of pirated software in Thailand also threaten national security and the stability of commerce in Thailand. We must crack down on companies who use pirated software and businesses that sell pirated software.”
ECD police will intensify their efforts to educate business leaders about the risks of pirated software. ECD police will also intensify their raids of businesses that do not comply.
Moreover, there is a preponderance of evidence that PCs with illegal and unlicensed software installed are vulnerable to malware attacks.
A study by IDC found that there is a strong positive correlation (0.79) between the presence of unlicensed software and the likelihood of encountering malware. By comparison, the correlation between education and income is 0.77.
Thailandis Asean’s second-riskiest country for cyberattack activity after Indonesia. Of the 4,300 incidents last year, 35 percent were perpetrated by malicious software code, 26 percent by fraud and 23 percent by intrusion.
Each week companies report losses due to cyber crime and cyber fraud amounting to millions of baht. Every week a major cyber crime strikes the private sector, often exporters that are making major financial transactions but lack the controls to ensure all of their software is legal, safe and secure. Banks, which traditionally invest in ample cyber protections, have also taken to educating their customers — asking them not to make online transactions using a PC with pirated software.
Banks also have faced direct threats from cyber criminals. Last year a group of cyber criminals attenpted to extort Thai banks, promising attacks if a ransom was not paid. The banks got through the ordeal with their security intact. But threats to the business community will continue to grow.
“Business organizations using illegal and unlicensedsoftware are acting without responsibility by putting their trade partners and employees at risk. This is unacceptable — andexecutive directors must be directly responsible by ensuring only legal and licensed software is used and well managed,” said Mr. Thosapone. “Likewise, we encourage consumers to staysafefrom financial and personal information loss by ensuring only genuine software is used and installed on personal computers, as well as filing reports of counterfeit or cracked software sellers with police.”
Mr. Somporn Maneeratanakul, the President of Association of Thai Software Industry (ATSI), said cybercriminals occasionally find vulnerabilities in software, and without patches to fix these vulnerabilities, computers are vulnerable to malware attacks. Businesses using unlicensed software will not be able to receive these legitimate updates.”
“Malware could be used as spyware to report critical information, trade secrets, financial information and employee’s personal information,” said Mr. Somporn.
The Safe Software, Safe Nation campaign will deliver awareness and educational messages to business leaders, software sellers, consumers and the general public about the risk of malware attack and other attacks when using illegal and unlicensed software, as well as practical ways and international best practices.
Intellectual property is of the utmost importance to the software industry. Last year, ECD found nearly 500 million baht of illegal and unlicensed software installed on computer of 214 business organizations, nearly 20 percent higher than 2014. This indicates that corporations and management need to have a better level of understanding about the Copyright Act, the associated legal penalties for infringement and critical implications to their businesses.
“The impact of software piracy on the country, people and businesses is clear. Shared responsibility in use of legal and licensed software will help Thailand stay safe and secure,” said Mr. Thosapone.