About Cracked Copies of Software Products
A common but illegal practice is to download counterfeit software products, also
known as “cracked” software. The digital signatures for the executable files are invalidated,
and users of the cracked software unknowingly put themselves at a significant risk.
In addition to the obvious legal risks and embarrassment, there are very real dangers
to intellectual property and online security.
Please realize that a person or organization knowledgeable enough to crack the copy
protection of a software product can easily make additional changes to the code.
The organizations behind these efforts include well-funded criminal syndicates, mercenary
organizations, and government agencies.
What could cracked software be made to do?
- Install a keylogger to harvest accounts and passwords as they are typed
- Install a back door to use online computers for illegal activities
- Download and hide compromising files on the computers of targeted individuals, such
as child pornography or classified government documents.
Another risk is code that quietly siphons and filters intellectual property. While this includes any files of value
on a computer, DWG files are an attractive target for the following reasons:
- Designs can be sold internationally
- Patents in progress can be stolen
- Progress information can be leaked or sold to competitors or investors
- Vulnerabilities in site layouts and network configurations can be identified
The frequency of these types of attacks have been increasing significantly. Embedding
malware in cracked copies of software products is easy for knowledgeable exploiters,
and because cracked copies of software cannot be updated, they must be downloaded
repeatedly. The result is that the malware payload can be changed, redirected, and
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