When you install pirated software, you may also be unknowingly installing malware. Pirated software is a great way for online criminals to distribute viruses, Trojans, ransomware or other malicious software programs that can corrupt your system and data. Thieves can use malicious code bundled with pirated software to do things like capture information you type into your computer (keystroke logging) and gain unauthorized access to financial and personal data stored on your computer, which can be used in identity theft or other illegal activity. Malicious software can also be used to remotely operate your hardware – including your webcam. And it doesn’t stop there. Infections acquired through pirated software can spread to other computers in your home or business networks. Even if pirated software is malware-free, it typically cannot install manufacturer security updates, which means that your computer will remain vulnerable to hacking threats long after the software manufacturer has issued a patch to protect its customers.
Risks to Businesses
- Unauthorized access to customers’ personal and transactional records, which could lead to legal and financial liability
- Breach of corporate financial records and other confidential/sensitive data
- Theft of your trade secrets and other intellectual property (IP)
- Data destruction/loss (i.e., the deletion of critical business information)
Risks to Individuals and Families
- Unauthorized access to and sharing of personal information and sensitive data
- Identify theft and other illegal activities
- Data destruction/loss
How do you protect yourself? The answer is not simple. As an easy first step, use antivirus or other security software that is updated daily and refrain from installing unlicensed software, or software acquired from questionable sources. If you think the person offering the software may be distributing illegitimate products, visit our Shop Smart page for additional tips.