There are a lot of great programs out there that we really want. Usually, big software companies such as Adobe or Microsoft release major updates regularly for their top selling software that introduces new features and bug fixes, and we would love to get our hands on them quickly. But as you may know, buying the software or games that we want can be very expensive. That’s when some people turn to torrent websites to download all these goodies for free.
However, besides the seriousness matter of software piracy, it also violets the law and the intellectual rights of the software’s authors. Moreover, counterfeit software can open doors to malware and hackers which can damage your computer and compromise its security. Once your computer is infected, hackers can remotely access all of your data, ie pictures, music, videos etc. The worst type of malware is ransomware, where it encrypts all of your files until you pay a big fee. Once your files are encrypted, It’s impossible to decrypt them unless you pay the thieves the amount of money they demand. Mac owners are also vulnerable to these types of malware, so don’t think just because you have a mac you are safe.
The most infamous torrent site on the net was “The Pirate Bay“. It was founded in 2003 by a Swedish think tank Piratbyrån. However, the website’s founders were arrested in April 2009 and were found guilty in Sweden for copyright infringements and were sentenced to prison for one year and ordered to pay a hefty fine. Recently, it was found that The Pirate Bay was secretly running a cryptomine on visitors computers to bank on Monero coins.
As you can see, pirated software can lead to a lot of trouble, so ask yourself; “Is it worth it?”
In this article, we will look at 4 reasons why you shouldn’t download any pirated software or games.
1. It’s illegal
Downloading pirated software, music, movies or games is considered stealing and thus, it can count as a federal crime in some countries such as the United States. Punishments can range from either spending time in prison or having to pay the copyright holders. Now, I’m not saying that the cops or the government is capable of catching all the illegal downloaders and throwing them in prison, but what you are doing is wrong and you never know when your luck will run out.
Also keep in mind that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is basically tracking your every move online. Thus, if the government wants your tracking record then your ISP will provide them with that information and it will be enough evidence to land you in jail, or pay a hefty fine.
2. It could damage or infect your PC
Pirating software or games requires a great amount of coding knowledge and tremendous effort. People can spend hours or days trying to reverse engineer a software to break its activation process, tricking it into thinking it’s a purchased version. Of course no one will tell you who cracked the software; it could be done by a dangerous hacker or just a geek. You also never know whether or not someone has sneaked in a virus or malware inside the software or a game. You better pray you don’t get infected with ransomware.
According to an Anti-virus company AVG, they found that 90% of pirated video games are infected with some sort of malware. One of the most popular pirated PC game (Watch Dogs) had a bitcoin mining malware inside. Downloaded by tens of thousands of people, this mining malware allowed its creators to make money by wasting the infected PC’s resources. This of course resulted in system crashes and poor system performance. As you can see, hackers are targeting impatient gamers, who want to be the first one to download the latest games or software.
3. Your pirated software is vulnerable and might not work
Say you’ve downloaded a pirated program and it works fine, but once your computer is connected to the internet, it stops working. This is because software companies have implemented a way of checking the registration or serial number to see if it’s genuine or not. Even if you’ve managed to disable the automatic update feature, you are still running the risk of having a vulnerable software on your system. Developers often update or patch their software and push them through a product update.
Furthermore, some developers have taken a step forward and started implementing Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems that prevents illegal copies from working. Some also came up with creative ideas to battle piracy. For instance, in a game called Earthbound, if the game discovered that you were using an illegal copy then you’d receive endless anti piracy messages and your enemies in the game would increase significantly. This of course made it really hard to play, but the worst part was when you are reaching the end of the game. During the final boss scene, the game freezes up and then deletes all of your saved data.
4. Someone could steal your identity
The worst case scenario is if your cracked software or game has a keylogger. Keyloggers are small and shifty programs that can capture your every key stroke and sends it back to the scammers. Keep in mind that some keyloggers can go undetected by some anti-virus programs. This of course leaves you vulnerable to identity theft, and scammers can either sell your identity on the dark net or use it themselves to steal money.
Even if you think that you are smart enough and only have small amount of personal information on your computer, then do know that they can use it to find more information about you. This includes your photographs, your social accounts, date of birth, address and information about your family or spouse. These amounts of information can be enough to apply for a bank loan, credit card, or claim government benefits and ruin you financially. Identity theft opens endless doors to criminal possibilities.
How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself is to follow simple effective guidelines. These guidelines will help you stay away from any trouble that’s related to software piracy. If you want to stay secure online and avoid breaking the law then you should always stick to the rules and be realistic. In life, nothing comes easy; you either work for it to earn it or you can’t have it. Anyhow, if you want to dodge the bullets and remain free from those malware infected pirated software and games then here’s what you should do:
- Avoid torrent websites: Research has shown that about 90% of torrent sites contain some sort of malware. You never know what’s inside those “cracked software” . It could be a keylogger or it could be a ransomware. Stay away from torrents websites at all costs.
- Download from legit sites: To stay safe, always download your software from legit websites. Websites such as filehippo.com or cnet.com provide malware free software.
- Update your system: Always make sure your browser, windows or mac and your anti virus software is up to date before surfing the net or downloading anything.
- Backup your data: Make sure your important data is backed up on a hard drive that is not connected to your computer.
- Research about malware: It’s a good practice to research and learn on how scams, phishing and malware work and behave. Also learn about how people get scammed so you know all their tricks.
As you can see, there are a lot of dangers waiting for you behind pirated software and games. Sometimes people tend to forget the consequences of a wrong doing when saving money is their number one priority. Being safe, obeying and respecting the law should always come first to prevent much more severe problem that might happen to you. Thus, don’t get carried away by torrent websites or any other file sharing site. Stick to being safe online and do your research.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please let us know in the comments about your thoughts on piracy.