NAI cracks down on illegal software

Countless Australian organisations are illegally using email encryption software and one unhappy vendor is about to go on the attack.

Network Associates is planning to conduct a national campaign to flush out non-licenced users of its PGP email encryption product.

Until now the product was distributed around the world as freeware, but under new company rules only personal users can download it free of charge.

As Phil Zimmermann, Network Associates senior fellow, puts it: "For commercial users, it's time to pay up."

The difficulty for Network Associates is tracing the thousands of users who have downloaded and distributed the product prior to its new status as a licenced product.

"I [previously] turned a blind eye to people using it in commercial applications overseas," Zimmermann explained.

Zimmermann is currently in Australia to visit customers and partners.

Dean Stockwell, Network Associates director of sales support, told ComputerWorld the company is considering offering corporate users an amnesty period during which they can upgrade to the latest licenced version of PGP without fear of retribution.

However, Stockwell agrees it will be difficult to educate and migrate users to the new licenced product. "We don't expect PGP customers to change overnight," he said.

Stockwell said the company does have the option of receiving help from anti-piracy organisations or an independent auditor if users refuse to pay for the licences.

NAI reports the product is most prevalent in the health, finance and legal industries, but is unable to identify exactly how many users are involved.

"I am aware of several large organisations in Australia that are using it [and] that have not paid for it," Stockwell said.

In fact, ComputerWorld has learnt of one pathology company using the now illegal copies of PGP software.

A ComputerWorld source reports the company would be forced to pay $500,000 to purchase the new version at bulk discount rates, or over $1.1 million at retail rates.

Meanwhile, Bob Hey, Com Tech Communications security manager said his company has negotiated a reseller agreement with NAI to distribute PGP.

"I honestly believe the licencing is actually going to put value on the product," he said.

Hey believes users will pay for a licence to take advantage of local support services.

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