The upsurge in unlicensed software usage is attributed to the rise of remote work and megastructure project development, according to BSA | The Software Alliance, a global software advocate, and the police's Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECD).
In the first half of this year, losses from the use of unlicensed software amounted to 212 million baht, a rise from 195 million in the same period a year earlier, the ECD said in a press briefing.
This year, BSA will focus more on engineering and design firms under the Legalise and Protect initiative, aimed at promoting the use of licensed software among enterprises, following the rise of megaprojects worth billions of dollars across Southeast Asia, including Thailand, said Tarun Sawney, senior director of BSA | The Software Alliance.
Thailand is developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme worth 620 billion baht, including 10 billion baht budgeted for investment this year, with projects including a high-speed train project linking airports and the U-tapao airport upgrade.
Working with software company Autodesk, BSA plans to conduct outreach to 20,000 engineering and design firms across Asean for a campaign calling on the companies to commit to using only licensed software.
This covers 5,000 firms each in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.
The prime targets are engineering and design firms and there are also other companies on the list, including manufacturing firms and animation studios, Mr Sawney said.
This campaign follows BSA's Legalise and Protect initiative, which was launched in 2019 and has helped businesses in Asean to install licensed software on 1 million PCs.
The use of unlicensed software makes companies vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches, Mr Sawney said.
"We are in the cyber risk time when cyberattacks scale up in line with the rise of digital transformation and remote work," said Mr Sawney.
Pol Col Kreangsak Chitsaard, superintendent of inquiry of the ECD, said police received 197 complaints over the use of unlicensed software in the first half of 2021, compared with 183 in the same period last year.
He said there is a rise of unlicensed software usage particularly by key business sectors, which makes them vulnerable to cyber risks.
The use of unlicensed software by employees at home also makes their firms violate the copyrights law, he said.
According to him, the number of computers found to have been installed with unlicensed software surged to 9,694 in the first half of the year.