Single software license shared 770,000 times

By on December 8, 2010, 2:23 PM
Avast Software has discovered that one multi-user license for its Pro Antivirus was at one point being used by 774,651 individuals in over 200 countries. It started as a 14-user license for a small firm in Tucson, Arizona issued on June 30, 2009 but grew exponentially in use by late 2010. Except for the original 14 users, all of the others were pirates.

The speed at which the pirated license spread from Arizona was accelerated by warez sites, and Avast was quick to point out the "paradox" in computer users looking for "free" antivirus programs at locations with a known reputation for spreading malware. The avast Virus Lab has more than once documented examples of warez sites distributing packages of a "cracked" antivirus programs combined with malware.

The pirated license for the pro version gave a quarter of a million computers access to two additional features: a virtualization sandbox and a script shield. Other than that, the users didn't gain much, given that the same antivirus engine is used in the free and pro versions of avast's antivirus. Nevertheless, the identified users were sent a pop-up (pictured above) notifying them that they had a pirated license and that they would be cut off from virus database updates. They were also given the option of converting to the free version or buying the pro version.

"We made a decision to see just how viral this one license for avast! Pro Antivirus could be. The answer is 'very'," Vince Steckler, CEO of AVAST Software, said in a statement. "Now we are in the process of converting these pirates over to legal products."





User Comments: 22

Got something to say? Post a comment
lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Hahaha. No, Mr. Steckler, they will just find another way (pretty much from the same website they got the first crack from) to crack it even further so that those notifications cease to pop-up and to bring the software back to normal. Which means you won't sell more copies of your anti-virus by turning pirates into regular customers.

Unless, of course, the righteous TomSEA buys about 40 thousand copies to make up for the pirates in Techspot.

peperonikiller peperonikiller said:

at least they are being civilized about it and offering alternatives.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Kudos to Avast for not being a sue-happy company. This is a level headed approach to the situation.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

It's like the spread of an infectious disease, only the opposite and different.

princeton princeton said:

Unless, of course, the righteous TomSEA buys about 40 thousand copies to make up for the pirates in Techspot.

Don't copy me!

TomSEA said:

Fun way to have a contest - very innovative!

But I can't believe that out of the 43,218 Steam games I've purchased through their various sales, I don't have a single one of the 3 listed on this first objective set.

princeton said: Were those purchases to make up for all the pirates on techspot? :P

Just kidding :P.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Hee hee...That better not pop up on me Mr Steckler, or else i'll be kicking some bottom..Capeshe?

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You'd think they would have noticed after it went past a few hundred... but the free version is good enough anyway.

Guest said:

os & anti-virsus software is worth paying the license - they provide updates

besides there exist the ms security essentials as long as you valid os.

p51d007 said:

Avast is pretty good, but the MS security essentials does a pretty good job...but if you are pirating windows it "won't" pass validation, but then again, the pirate community probably has a way around that as well.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The TomSEA jokes are getting old, at first it was amuzing as kidding but now it's not anymore.

Is that hard to believe that there are people who think different? You can point out your point of view, maybe argue about it, but in the end it's just in the eye of the beholder.

Back into topic... as I've said countless times, if you are using a cracked antivirus... does that not sound odd at all? How hard is to get a free license for antivirus software from avast and then spybot or adaware for free too? I'll answer the latter for you, IT'S NOT HARD AT ALL.

You guys got it all wrong...

Guest said:

better to download the kit from their site and then just use the "license". anyway, congrats for their understanding. i use avast internet security(is light too) for 2 weeks already, and malwarebytes and kis 2010(from xp partition) don't find anything for now.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

princeton said:

Unless, of course, the righteous TomSEA buys about 40 thousand copies to make up for the pirates in Techspot.

Don't copy me!

TomSEA said:

Fun way to have a contest - very innovative!

But I can't believe that out of the 43,218 Steam games I've purchased through their various sales, I don't have a single one of the 3 listed on this first objective set.

princeton said: Were those purchases to make up for all the pirates on techspot? :P

Just kidding :P.

Lol, that was actually a reference.

Guest said:

Pure PR BS. Nice Marketing Strategy Avast! But I prefer Avast over AVG$hit.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Kibaruk said:

The TomSEA jokes are getting old, at first it was amuzing as kidding but now it's not anymore.

Is that hard to believe that there are people who think different? You can point out your point of view, maybe argue about it, but in the end it's just in the eye of the beholder.

Back into topic... as I've said countless times, if you are using a cracked antivirus... does that not sound odd at all? How hard is to get a free license for antivirus software from avast and then spybot or adaware for free too? I'll answer the latter for you, IT'S NOT HARD AT ALL.

You guys got it all wrong...

+1

Just to note, I swing more TomSEA's side than Princton's train of thought. That just seems F*cked up!

Guest said:

no anti virus is worth paying for, avast isnt even worth the cost to go pro...its excellent free

akannitaoheed said:

Kudos to AVAST team. Bill Gates would have locked you out of windows if it were Microsoft.

Guest said:

Avast has a good solution to this problem so kudos to them. I still recommend just using Microsoft Security Essentials, it's free and it works!

fpsgamerJR62 said:

I use the free version of AVAST because of its entertaining "Pirate Theme". Now, they've got real pirates too, a whole bunch of them

Guest said:

I wouldn't be stupid enough to download a hacked anti virus. hacker - oh wow this ***** doesn't have any anti virus software I know I'll put 100 male ware and viruses in this package so when he installs it it'll screw him over! Good thing he doesn't have any anti virus to stop it. user - oh sweet now i'm protected! It's like doing it with 100 lady's than putting on a condom thinking it'll be ok.

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Guest said:

I'll put 100 male ware and viruses in this package

Practice safe sex, kids.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

It does really lack gobs of class, in addition to being moronic, to hunt down a crack version of a program you can get for nothing.

That said, Avast's response is indeed, very measured.

So I guess Tom's right, the people who bother to steal things like this, are just doing it because they think they're entitled to it, and because they can.

Then they come to Techspot crying and moaning about their computer having malware, and good people, give their precious time to bail them out.

Pray I don't start a website, the "Malware and Virus Removal", simply wouldn't exist.

That actually makes a bunch of sense, go ask the people who gave you the malware what it is, and how to remove it. They'd certainly know better than me.

Boo, hoo, hoooo, "my computer's infected". My answer, "spare me"!

Why bother me? All you have to do is pay your 50 bucks, download, "Bogus Anti-Virus 2012", and all your troubles will be over.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.