Everyone knows that a computer without software is just a useless pile of metal. Needless to say that software must be purchased as any other product. The time when a personal computer was an expensive pipe-dream has passed irreversibly. Today equipping the system with all necessary programs costs much more than a PC itself. Naturally not everybody may like it. Some “sly” users do not buy software, but steal it. How? There are several ways. Probably the most common way is to use so called warez programs, i.e. illegal versions of commercial products traded in violation of the copyright. Of course, it is a crime comparable with stealing from the shop or supermarket. However, there is one significant difference. One would definitely be arrested for stealing a TV or music player from a local store, but not for illegal downloading of some office suite. It’s a heady temptation, isn’t it? But what about the risks? What do we need to know about them?
You probably know that warez software can be downloaded from numerous warez web sites. But did you heard that even a simple search for desirable piece of software possesses high threat to your system security and your personal privacy? Warez sites are the most dirtiest places in the Internet. All of them contain large amount of links to pornographic resources, display annoying advertisements and open numerous pop-ups. Furthermore, rare warez site doesn’t run malicious scripts or install harmful ActiveX controls. The overwhelming part of infamous toolbars, dialers, browser hijackers, adware and spyware pests distribute themselves through warez sites. Every mouse click on the dialog, banner or link can infect your computer with some sort of parasite. Using a safe web browser with strict security policy may help to avoid some threats. However, this will not help you to download desired software: most warez resources are fraudulent. Actually they are created only for commercial purposes and do not offer any programs at all.
A popular file-sharing network is a better place to search for warez. All you have to do is to enter a keyword, select a file, quickly download it and, voila, you can install and use your favorite program for free. However, you cannot be sure that the application you’ve downloaded is not a virus. Lots of Internet worms and trojans spread through peer-to-peer networks. They create infected files with names like “Adobe Photoshop”, “Symantec AntiVirus”, “Autodesk AutoCAD”, etc. and share them. Of course, launching such file would secretly install a parasite. Even if you are lucky and the file you’ve downloaded is not infected, you cannot feel completely safe. Most of illegal application copies require additional tools (cracks, patches, etc.) to work properly. Sometimes these tools have additional dangerous payload. Imagine, while you are a playing a pirated computer game its “patch” quietly erases your personal documents.
Software companies fight piracy. For instance, the world-known software leader Microsoft have launched Windows Genuine Advantage authentication service, which prevents users running stolen Windows systems from receiving recent software updates. Another examples are computer games. Warez games may be playable, but most of them are extremely buggy. Some of them lack the very half of original features. Illegal copies of multiplayer games often cannot be used to connect to official game servers. As you can see, pirated software doesn’t work as intended.
Yet another drawback of using warez is a legality. Every installed stolen application is an evidence of the commited crime. The production, distribution and use of warez is illegal in most countries. Everyone who is related to such activity is consired to be a thief.
These are the basic things you must know about warez. As you can see, dealing with pirated software can be very dangerous. I suggest avoiding it at any cost. If you cannot afford a program, use its less expensive or completely free alternatives, but do not steal it! Today there is no software shortfall. You can have your own completely different opinion on warez. But don’t say you weren’t warned.