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Pollute the Pirated Software Pool

Some discussion on a mailing list today about the origin of software CDs and computer books for sale on the streets of Manhattan prompted me to think that if I were a tech-savvy distributor of pirated software for sale (or uploader of pirated software to P2P networks or online distribution sites), I would make these counterfeit CDs of Windows or Office or Dreamweaver MX or whatever also secretly install some spyware that would give me access to the users’ machines to sniff data that I could use for financial fraud, or to turn them into spam sending robots, or whatever other malicious purpose I might dream up one day (sell distributed computing services to the criminal underworld?).

There’s no need to be really tech-savvy and actually modify the app, just alter the installation script so that it also installs, without notice, the spyware binary somewhere.

Plus, the user wouldn’t have much recourse. Some would disable or delete the spyware, sure, but the users who can’t/dont aren’t going to get their money back from wherever they bought it (if they bought it at all) and they can’t call up Microsoft or Macromedia or whomever and complain about it.

I suppose a conspiracy minded individual could think that such infected pirated software count be introduced into the wild by software companies to discourage piracy. A more malicious version of polluting filesharing networks with files that look like popular songs, but aren’t (which I think is great, BTW).

Tagged with software