THE Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) has launched a free Software Asset Management program to help businesses and organisations reduce technological and legal risks that the BSAA says are endemic in almost every business and organisation.
The BSAA Software Asset Management program helps users review software, rectify problem areas, train employees and manage software on an ongoing basis.
The BSAA's Software Asset Management program includes a new Web site (www.bsaa.com.au) that offers information and management tools.
The site contains a software asset manual, providing a guide to managing software. Checklist and tips on identifying risks and assessment and audit forms for tracking software installed are also included. The site also features links to training resources and software tools for monitoring programs that are installed and running on computers and networks.
Many of the services are free of charge, however, commercial tools and training provided by third parties linked from the BSAA site may require payment.
"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," Chairman of the BSAA, Jim Macnamara, said.
Macnamara said most owners of computers paid careful attention to the hardware. "But it's the software which controls what the computer does and it's the software where the risks lie.”
Businesses that did not carefully manage software were exposed to risks including financial losses and legal action resulting in fines or damages.
According to the BSAA, the biggest computer-related risks to organisations were: viruses or worms that can destroy data and bring down operations; unauthorised material downloaded from the Web; and legal risks posed by installation, downloading or running of unlicensed software.
Small to medium businesses and organisations were most at risk the BSAA said.
Large corporations and government agencies had dedicated IT staff and consultants and increasingly employed strict management procedures on their computer networks Macnamara said. But 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.
"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," Mr Macnamara said.