According to BSA a Software Alliance, 33% of South Africans are using unlicensed software on their computers.
That number is marginally down from 2014 and significantly better than the Middle East and Africa, where the rate is 57%.
“We believe this progress is in part a result of the successful cooperation between the South African government and the software industry,” said Billa Coetsee, chair of the South African Committee of BSA.
The organisation carried out a joint initiative with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation on intellectual property and licence compliance.
But despite the 1% drop, Coetsee said that unlicensed software in South Africa is big business.
“As the report highlights, the value of unlicensed software in use in South Africa is 274 million USD, which is very high. We will have to continue building the success of our recent initiatives with government, other stakeholders and the business community,” he adds.
In the European Union, the illegal software business is worth 11.1 billion USD with an unlicensed rate of 29%.
The survey also found that 26% of employees are loading unlicensed software on to company computers, nearly double the 15% estimate of chief information officers.
“Many CIOs don’t know the full extent of software deployed on their systems or if that software is legitimate,” said BSA, President Victoria A Espinel.
Illegal software can contribute directly to cybercrime because it is often produced with deliberate security loopholes to allow malware on computer networks.
Security company Check Point showed that SA jumped from 67th to 22nd position on its ThreatCloud Map in January.
Data from Trend Micro showed that 6,185 local PCs were infected with banking malware in 2015. In the last three months of the year alone, 4,197 were infected with adware, and 6,564 with malware.
International Data Corporation said that in 2015 alone cyber attacks cost businesses over 400 billion USD.