Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Illegitimate software – don’t go there!

Ever get spam email selling name-brand software at discount prices? You might get offers for products from Microsoft, Adobe and other major publishers at half the ordinary price, or better.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is, for several reasons. First, here’s what you’re likely getting: software that is likely pirated, or “cracked.” Hackers stripped pirating protection from it, so that anybody can install it without entering valid product keys.

So why should you not buy and install cracked software? If you do, you break copyright laws and deny software publishers their rightful revenues.

Granted, few people cry if companies like Microsoft lose a sale. OK, here’s another reason: cracked software often gives you more than you bargain for. The stuff you install may include malware that:

  • Logs your keystrokes and sends those logs (which may include sensitive information, like passwords) to the “vendor’s” servers.
  • Lets other people take control of your computer.
  • Otherwise messes up your computer.

These warnings go for any operating system, whether it be Windows, Mac or Linux. That’s because installing software obliges you to enter your administrative password, which in turn lets the software lodge itself deep in your system, where it can do harm.

A cautionary tale: early in the 21st century, file-sharing service Kazaa let people swap files for free. To use the service, people installed Kazaa software on their computers. Aside from letting people download music and share their own, it also installed spyware and adware, unwanted components that did not necessarily leave computers when people uninstalled them. This stuff might have been mentioned in the end user licence agreement (EULA) but really, how many people read those tangled webs of legalese?

How you can use this tip

“Discount” software might seem like a good idea when you buy it for less money. But in time, the lost performance, compromised security and other annoyances it inflicts on your computer makes illegitimate software far more expensive than the real thing.

Copyright laws may or may not matter to you, but if you want to keep your computer working properly, only buy software from legitimate vendors.