Everything that was ever created by one human, may be cracked by another one. This sentence in different alterations is often used by computer pirates. Programs cracked by them can be easily downloaded on the Internet. Of course, the main declared advantage of cracked apps is that they are completely free. This factor is a reason for cracked software popularity in 3rd world countries. But didn’t you think that computer pirates want to have money to live, too? To have this really essential option, they gain their profit in other, illegal and possibly harmful ways. Let me explain, which ways I am talking about, and why it is a bad idea to use unlicensed software at all.
Specifying the cracked software origins
Every not-freeware program has its own license checking mechanism. Such a check may be performed exclusively on the user’s PC, as well as using not only PC, but also a server where all data about licenses is stored. But the code which is responsible for this operation is stored inside of the root directory of the program. Hence, a hacker is able to find this code and modify it in a specific way : he creates a specific “jump” on the license checking stage, so the operation will be simply skipped, and the program will think it is activated1.
Why are cracked programs dangerous?
After the described modification hacker can distribute his program for the wide pirate public. However, he will not have any profit in such a scenario. To solve this problem, hackerman adds several programs to the initial package. Which programs? Ones whose developers agreed to pay the pirate for this operation. And here goes the most interesting.
A lot of small developers distribute their programs as a part of the software bundle. It can be whatever – antiviruses (Segurazo, Santivirus, McAfee, Avast, et cetera), “fast and comfortable browsers”, different utilities with or without practical use, and so on. Such apps are more annoying than harmful, but their usage may be dangerous because of wrong actions in tight places, like registry or Group Policies.
But, besides free trash bag-like apps, computer pirates can add different malicious apps. And their type and severity depends only on the size of the reward promised to hacker by malware developers. It may be something non-critical, like adware or browser hijacker. However, in the majority of cases of malware injection through the cracked software, users get a full-house : trojan-stealer, trojan-backdoor, trojan-downloader, worm, virus and, finally, ransomware. Because of modern trends through malware, you will get every malware mentioned earlier inside of the single app. Bad perspective, isn’t it?
Breaking the law with cracked programs
Using cracked software is an outlaw action in all civilized countries. And if you use it at your home computer and not create any commercial product with the pirated programs, you may keep calm – it is very hard to detect that you use exactly unlicensed software. However, big companies, as well as any other commercial organization, can be checked by the executive authorities. And in case if cracked software usage is confirmed, the corporation will receive a large fine. The size of this fine is usually much bigger than the license cost for all software that has been used in its cracked version. So, think well before using cracked AutoCAD or Photoshop in your company.
As you can see, cracked software usage carries a lot of disadvantages that can cost you much more than the license for this program. Yes, in some cases cracked software usage can be forced – for example, if you want to test the program before purchasing, being not sure if it can satisfy your needs. But even in such a situation – pirating with good intentions – you can become a victim of malware attack.
- Software cracking process described on Wikipedia