How risky is Piracy: Do cracks contain malware? (2023)


Is downloading pirated software safe or fraught with malware and trojans? We'll investigate with live examples. (Get Acronis with exclusive 30% sponsor discount)

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One of the most common questions I get unsurprisingly, is that I'm trying to download this crack and I think it may have infected my computer with a virus.

Now the usual answer is we never met, but in this video we're going to try to answer the question more technically and look at a couple of examples to illustrate pirated software may or may not be safe in different circumstances.

So, first up, as you can see, we've done a quick Google search for Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 crack download.

Now this is one of my favorite games from my childhood.

Unfortunately, it's no longer available, thankfully I have the disc, but if you don't, your only Resort may be to download something like this in order to bypass the DRM and be able to play the game.

Is this malware or is this safe? First of all? Well, as you can see quite evidently from the screen, we've got all these fake download buttons, none of which are actually the file.

We're looking for.

We've got start download free start now, and if you click on any of these, as you will see it just takes us to a different website that's going to install some sort, of adware pup crap on this computer.

If we click on this same thing, and you can see how deceptive.

This is right because it looks like the download file.

It even has a file size next to it.

But if you click on it it's going to download something entirely different the first danger is pups like this but let's forget about that now moving on let's say we get to the actual download link in this mess maybe you have a really good ad blocker or something wait, this, isn't even the link? Oh crap! Uh, dear guys.

I don't pirate stuff I, don't have the experience? Oh um.

It seems to be working.

The download is starting in zero seconds.

And we have the file downloaded.

So if we open up the archive as you can see it's packed inside another archive and then there's the password I'm gonna put it in and here we have our crack.

Let's hope the cops aren't watching here.

I'm gonna smuggle some in under your jacket and we've got the file on first glance.

Looking at the desktop since I have this game.

This looks like the actual game executable.

If I click on properties, it's 2.82, megabytes kind of makes sense, go into details.

There isn't really any metadata here.

Nor is there going to be any signature.

So it's really hard to decide.

If this is an actual file, it could be anything it could be malware if we upload this to vars total, there are going to be some detections, but in this case it's only two, maybe because this is a very old game, but spoiler alert guys.

I have tried this Fallout I've done extensive analysis on this, and I can tell you that this file is absolutely safe.

There's really no Trojan injection going on apart from bypassing the game, CD key check during the loading process.

But now, let's look at a different example on the second tab: I have Norton Antivirus 2022 crack full torrent, Mac plus win, and if I click on download, zip here very similar process, we've got some kind of a download link that we need to navigate.

To put that in here, we've got the file.

Password is one two three four gonna hit OK extract the setup and we'll go ahead and run it.

What could go wrong but oops if we open process, Explorer I, think what you're going to find is that the system is now getting infected by malware.

Let me do a quick scan with Hitman Pro.

That should demonstrate our point and it doesn't take long for the results to start showing up.

The file has deleted itself from desktop, but, as you can see, in Hitman Pro we've got an Event Viewer fake, Event Viewer, and this is active malware currently running.

It's probably a Trojan downloader downloading other payloads as well.

We've got a loader.exe, so this system is now infested with malware.

Now, in this particular case, if we actually scan the Trojan that was masquerading as a fake Norton, installer you're going to find that it is detected by few engines on vars total, not a lot, though, and that's partly because of the Fall size, and this is why you need to be very careful when you're downloading software like this, because you could download some sort of pirated software scan it on vars total think it's safe or clean, because it's not detected by too many engine and then run it and it's actually a Trojan.

The reverse is also possible.

You download a file like this.

It's like five megabytes in size.

You scan it on verse, total it's detected by 60 engines, but in reality all it does is exactly what it advertises to do as a crack.

So the signals you get from doing a vars toll scan may not be the most accurate at the end of day.

There's only one way to verify, and that is by doing an extensive analysis of the specific exe that you're looking at and unless your skilled reverse engineer, you're not going to be able to do that and most AV companies are not going to do that either they're just going to look at a crack and say this is illegal software and add a signature and move on, because they would rather spend that energy doing in-depth investigations of serious threats rather than pirated software and Trojan crop.

Now that's the hard technical answer.

I know it doesn't solve your problem, but I just want it to be transparent and tell you how things are I.

Don't pirate soft software I don't recommend doing it, but whatever you do make sure you have good protection on your system because doing a vars total scan is not going to be an effective way of actually finding malware, especially when the payloads these days are very obfuscated.

You want something that has real-time protection, that can analyze things in memory that can look at malicious behavior, and that really is your best bet.

Another thing you might want to do is back up your files and both of these things can be accomplished very well with acronis our sponsors for this video, but before that please like and share.

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This is the PC security channel.

So we gotta test this right.

As usual, I have my script, ready to go.

We've got malix right here and we're gonna run all the ransomware samples.

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Is it safe to crack or pirate software? ›

Legitimate software is safe to use. However, with pirated software, there is always a risk of downloading a malicious piece of code containing trojans, malware and even ransomware.

What is the risk of using cracked software? ›

When you install pirated software, you expose yourself to malware. Ransomware, Trojans, viruses, and other malicious software may wreak havoc on your computer and the data stored on it. Some pirated software products contain malicious malware that can access your data. This allows you to control your device and webcam.

Do all cracks have malware? ›

It's safe to assume that while cracks could be Trojans, not all of them are. Only the cracks that seed malware can be called Trojans. Cracks that are also Trojans are particularly dangerous because hackers who created the malware will not just want it to enter your device unseen.

Is piracy a malware? ›

Software piracy acts as a gateway for cybercriminals to infect computers, leaving individuals and their personal data vulnerable to malware infection.

Is software piracy harmful? ›

Risks of using pirated software

You will put your online security at risk because illegal and counterfeit software might infect your device with viruses, malware, or adware. Visiting pirating websites is a danger in itself — they contain malicious ads, let alone infected files.

Do pirated games contain malware? ›

The utmost concern and likelihood are that cracked games commonly have viruses packed with the download file. Maliciously installing a virus as part of game software makes it very difficult for antivirus software to detect and remove the malicious software. Viruses could include spyware, malware, and worse, ransomware.

What are the risks of piracy? ›

Other risks include:
  • Pirated contents used as traps to steal personal data, bank information or other sensitive information.
  • Unsafe payment methods, which can lead to credit card fraud or other financial scams.

What are the risks of pirated Windows? ›

Since pirated copies do not receive updates, malware or viruses are more likely to infect them. And a single strain of malware, like the dreaded ransomware, can erase or lock you out of your files. Besides random attacks, the person you downloaded Windows from could have loaded the pirated copy with malware.

How many people use cracked software? ›

A 2018 study reported that at least 91 per cent of PC users in India are using a pirated copy of Windows. In fact, even when one buys a new PC or a laptop with preinstalled Windows, 80-85 per cent of the time, the user gets a pirated copy of the operating system.

Is using cracked software stealing? ›

Using or distributing pirated software constitutes a violation of software copyright law. Companies and individuals face up to $150,000 in penalties for every instance. They've also committed a felony that can lead to up to five years in prison.

Does cracked mean hacked? ›

Hacking and cracking are functionally the same, but hackers maintain that their work is to find holes in security systems that can then be fixed. Whereas with cracking, the intent is purely malicious.

Is cracking computer crime? ›

Cracking is a technique used to breach computer software or an entire computer security system, and with malicious intent. Though functionally the same as hacking, cracking is strictly used in a criminal sense.

Are crack files safe? ›

Once a user has downloaded and installed cracked software, the malware hidden inside can steal information from their computer. And it can even go on to download more malware, making the problem much worse. The malware profiled in the report could do all sorts of invasive things.

What is piracy examples? ›

These include: Using one licensed copy to install a program on multiple computers. Copying discs for installation or distribution. Taking advantage of upgrade offers without having a legal copy of the version to be upgraded. Acquiring academic or other restricted or non-retail software without a proper license.

Are pirated websites safe? ›

Pirated streams and downloads often come with hidden dangers. The most serious dangers come from giving untrustworthy people access to your personal information. When you download or stream pirated content, what you're doing is ushering pirates past your computer, mobile device and network defenses.

Can cracked software have virus? ›

2. The crack could contain malware. As cracked software is provided by unknown third parties, there is no way to know what else you get with the download, apart from the promised software. This means that there is always the risk of a crack infecting your computer or network with malware.

Do piracy sites have viruses? ›

Many of these illegitimate sites can install viruses onto your family's devices. These viruses, also known as malware or malicious software, can spy on your digital activity, lock your device until a ransom is paid or give hackers access to your device.

Who does piracy hurt? ›

Software developers, distributors, and, ultimately, end users, are all hurt by piracy.

What are the 5 main types of software piracy? ›

What are some common software piracy examples?
  • Counterfeiting.
  • End-user piracy.
  • Internet piracy.
  • Hard disk loading.
  • Client-server overuse.

Is piracy really a crime? ›

In fact, piracy is a federal crime. These felony charges can land you in prison for a year or longer, depending upon the circumstances of your individual case. Although at first glance, piracy might seem like a victimless crime, it's still considered theft.

Do I have pirated Windows? ›

Step 1: Click Windows logo and R key on the keyboard in Windows 10 to open the Run dialog. Step 2: Type slmgr. vbs /dli and press Enter key to display license information.

Is pirated Windows slow? ›

Cracked versions of operating systems give hackers an access to your PC. The general presumption that pirated Windows are as good as the original ones is a myth. Pirated Windows tend to make your system laggy.

Does pirated Windows affect gaming? ›

Yes, you can play pirated games. The Windows you have can be OEM(pre-installed)/pirated/custom installation, does not matter.

What software is pirated the most? ›

What is the most pirated computer software in 2022?
  1. Photoshop. The most searched for pirated software is Photoshop, with 49,970 monthly searches. ...
  2. Microsoft Word. Programs including Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, find themselves within the top ten most pirated software. ...
  3. Microsoft Office.
Jul 4, 2022

Why do people use piracy? ›

There are a range of reasons why people pirate, including a philosophical desire for all digital data to be free. Content is commonly pirated through peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent as well as cloud services, illegal streaming sites, and online auctions.

Why do people use pirated software? ›

Some reasons on why people pirate are: Digital rights management (DRM) may limit people from using the software in ways the want. The price of software may be high. Not available in their country; no legitimate stores sell it there.

Are crack files legal? ›

It's illegal

The biggest thing to keep in mind before you consider downloading pirated or cracked software is that it's illegal. The last thing you want is to trade off easy access to a game or program with jail time.

Is cracked games piracy? ›

At its simplest, pirated games are those that have been “cracked” by bypassing digital rights management (DRM), technology designed to protect copyrighted content. By doing so, they allow users to access and play the titles without paying their developers or distributors.

What is an example of a software crack? ›

Examples of cracks are: applying a patch or by creating reverse-engineered serial number generators known as keygens, thus bypassing software registration and payments or converting a trial/demo version of the software into fully-functioning software without paying for it.

Can a hacker crack your password? ›

Even if you avoid using personal details in your password, a hacker can crack it. Often people will reuse passwords across multiple sites. Hackers will search for data stolen in previous data breaches to see if your credentials have been leaked before.

What can a hacker do once he has cracked your password? ›

In the TransUnion case, the password didn't take long to crack — it was set to “password.” Once hackers gain access, they can lock you out of your accounts, steal personal data, and use the information for various types of identity theft.

Is being a hacker a job? ›

The job duties of an ethical hacker involve testing the security of a computer system or server. In this career, you may also have the job title of penetration tester. Your responsibilities include attempting to hack a system, website, or network to assess the vulnerability.

Do hackers go to jail? ›

If you are charged with federal hacking crimes under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, you could face up to a year in federal prison for lesser offenses, between 10-20 years for more serious offenses, and even life in prison if the hacking resulted in someone's death.

How do hackers learn to hack? ›

Hackers learn to hack by getting an education in cybersecurity, obtaining certifications, and getting jobs that require hacking capabilities. Here is more information on how hackers learn to hack: Get an education in cybersecurity. There are many different paths to starting a career in hacking and cybersecurity.

What is a cracked app? ›

In general, the cracked or modded apps work when a hacker grabs the source code of an app from Google Play and modifies it so that its premium features are unlocked.

What is a pirated software? ›

Definition. The use and or distribution of copyrighted computer software in violation of the copyright laws or applicable license restrictions. Common forms include end user piracy, counterfeiting, and hard disk loading.

How pirated software is detected? ›

How is pirated software detected? Through the use of monitoring software that detects IT assets.

Why is it called piracy? ›

These illicit printers were termed 'pirates' by the guild to emphasize that they were stealing real property and were violating the law of humans and kings when they did so.

Does piracy mean stealing? ›

Piracy is a what pirates do: they steal stuff. If you plagiarize by stealing someone's words or ideas that's piracy. Argh! The original sense of piracy comes from pirates — thieves who hijack other boats, taking what they please.

Is piracy illegal in America? ›


Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.

Can you go to jail for pirating software? ›

A civil lawsuit could hold you responsible for thousands of dollars in damages. Criminal charges may leave you with a felony record, accompanied by up to five years of jail time and fines up to $250,000.

Can pirated software be detected? ›

How is pirated software detected? Through the use of monitoring software that detects IT assets. Great software will help you create a complete catalog and determine whether any program is non-compliant with internal or external licensing requirements.

Can you go to jail for using cracked software? ›

Software piracy is illegal in California under Penal Code Section 350. The law makes it a felony, punishable by either two, three, or five years in state prison, to take a trademarked product worth more than $400 and copy it without the trademark owner's permission.

Is it illegal to pirate software? ›

Software Piracy

The illegal copying of software programs is a crime! In the United States and many other countries, copyright law provides for severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted material.

Where is pirating legal? ›

Torrenting copyrighted material isn't illegal everywhere. Just like VPN laws, some countries don't enforce copyright claims, and some let you torrent files for personal use. There are two countries with no laws banning the download of copyrighted material: the Marshall Islands and Somalia.

How many years do you get for pirating? ›

What Are the Penalties for Piracy? Piracy is punished quite severely under U.S.C. 81. Most overt acts of piracy come with a mandatory minimum of life imprisonment, while most others carry a maximum of 10 years in prison—not to mention hefty fines in many cases.

Is pirating a game crime? ›

Unwanted attention from law enforcement. Finally, it's important to remember that using pirated gaming content is illegal. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, it could lead to fines or even jail time, if use of cracked software can be traced back.

Are all Windows pirated? ›

A 2018 study reported that at least 91 per cent of PC users in India are using a pirated copy of Windows. In fact, even when one buys a new PC or a laptop with preinstalled Windows, 80-85 per cent of the time, the user gets a pirated copy of the operating system.

What are the risks of downloading pirated software? ›

What are the risks when using unlicensed software?
  • Fines and non-compliance with legal obligations. The use of illegal software violates some laws and can cause legal sanctions against companies and individuals. ...
  • Instabilities and poor application performance. ...
  • Infections and invasions by viruses.

Are cracked games illegal? ›

The biggest thing to keep in mind before you consider downloading pirated or cracked software is that it's illegal. The last thing you want is to trade off easy access to a game or program with jail time. Anti-piracy laws vary across regions and can range from fines to lengthy prison sentences.

Is piracy a felony? ›

In fact, piracy is a federal crime. These felony charges can land you in prison for a year or longer, depending upon the circumstances of your individual case. Although at first glance, piracy might seem like a victimless crime, it's still considered theft.

Are pirated websites illegal? ›

Downloading unlicensed content is always illegal

While streaming doesn't violate U.S. copyright law, downloading very explicitly does. You're making a copy of the work every time you download something — a clear violation if it's done without the copyright holder's permission.

Why is piracy a crime? ›

Pirated contents used as traps to steal personal data, bank information or other sensitive information. Unsafe payment methods, which can lead to credit card fraud or other financial scams. Software updates (or lack of them) for products obtained through piracy can result in security vulnerabilities and other problems.

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