The Perils of Acquiring Pirated Software and Games

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks

In the quest for the latest gaming thrill or a novel application without opening your wallet, the allure of pirated software beckons. However, delving into the realm of illegal downloads often leads to more complications than solutions.

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Deciphering Digital Rights Management (DRM)

A historical countermeasure against piracy involved embedding copy protection within video games. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, users often had to input cipher codes or excerpts from a game’s manual to initiate gameplay.

Today, the predominant form of copy protection is Digital Rights Management (DRM). This technology authenticates games or software, allowing them to function only under specific conditions. Activation through product keys, limited installation allowances, and always-on DRM, necessitating a constant internet connection for authentication, are common DRM methods. DRM’s reach extends to diverse media, including ebooks, music, and movies.

Disabling DRM is termed cracking, and indulging in cracked software poses several hazards:

1. Illegality Looms Large

Before contemplating the download of pirated or cracked software, bear in mind its illegality. The convenience of access should not be bartered for potential legal repercussions. Anti-piracy laws vary, carrying penalties from fines to extended prison sentences.

2. Updates and Support Elude You

Safeguarding devices against evolving threats requires keeping them updated with the latest versions and patches. Engaging with cracked or pirated software obstructs access to crucial updates. These programs often require patching for functionality, hindering any legitimate software updates. Though not immediately apparent, this absence of updates leaves the program or game progressively outdated.

3. Adware or Malware May Infiltrate

Unverified software is susceptible to adware, manifesting as intrusive pop-up banners or videos. At its worst, adware is a severe annoyance, but malware presents a more ominous threat.

Between mid-2018 and mid-2021, the cryptojacking malware, Crackonosh, infiltrated over 200,000 devices globally. Targeting gamers, the malware embedded itself in pirated software, turning affected computers into cryptocurrency mining hubs. In July 2021, MosaicLoader, another malware, surfaced, targeting users downloading pirated games and software. This malware not only steals passwords but also mines cryptocurrency and injects trojan malware.

4. The Ban Hammer Lurks

Even if you manage to sidestep malware, anti-piracy measures may still catch up with you—primarily through account bans.

In 2016, Niantic Labs, the developer of Pokémon Go, began issuing lifetime bans to players violating the game’s terms of service, particularly those modifying or installing unofficial software. Nintendo, in 2018, initiated permanent bans on Switch users engaging in illegal game installations, affecting online play and access to the Nintendo Network.

Ultimately, what’s the purpose of piracy if it renders the acquired content unusable?

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