What harm could there be in free software? Everybody’s cost-conscious these days, right? Why not help your bottom line by using freebies?
Wrong. Free software is one of the most dangerous things you will run into while operating your business. This is not to say trial offers, or any shareware products, are to be avoided, if the company offering them is legitimate. What you should avoid like the plague are the free software packages advertised on the Internet. These packages truly epitomize the concept of getting what you pay for, as they can take over your machine(s) and your network for nefarious purposes.
What Do Makers Of Free Software Get Out Of The Deal?
Ask yourself, what is the maker of this product getting out of it by giving it away? It’s unheard of for a software developer to not make a profit out of their product, so how are they getting anything if you got it for free? What they’re getting is the opportunity to plant hidden software on your machine or to use your network for their benefit, unknown to you.
Some makers of free software are just in it to destroy – they plant malware and viruses on your machine and effectively take down the machine, and possibly your whole network. This can effectively put you out of business, for the time it takes to clean the software and its hidden consequences out of your machines and your network. If it takes long enough, it can put you out of business permanently.
Some purveyors of free software are in it to make use of your resources for their benefit. These pieces of software install hidden code on the targeted machine; the machine then becomes part of a bot network, giving the software maker access to your machine’s processing capability, and to your network. The maker can then distribute software across the Internet without your knowledge.
Other makers of free software are in it for the information they can steal and use to make money. These types of software hack into your company’s databases and mine information. This information is then used for identity theft, targeted marketing, and for real-time burglary of brick-and-mortar businesses, or from your customers.
What Do You Get Out Of The Deal?
Most likely – nothing; unless you count the downtime, aggravation, loss of business, lost employee wages, and potential loss of data. Will you get anything good out of it? Probably not, although a clever hacker will develop a package that serves a need, so you don’t realize you have a problem for a while. However long it takes you to find the hidden software, this is time the hacker has to use your machine(s) and network for their own business, and this is all to their good. Hackers bent on destruction are not usually concerned with biding time. Their product promises to serve a need, but once installed promptly loads malware and viruses, taking down your machine(s) and network.
If you have a software need, don’t just look for a freebie. Find a legitimate developer and start a trial. If the software meets your need, then pay for it and use it in good health. If it doesn’t fill the bill, cancel the trial and move on. Look for legitimate freeware or shareware, but virus check the file before you install it, just to be on the safe side. Generally speaking, free software ain’t free if it comes from an internet ad; it will cost you plenty as you repair the damage it causes.