The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center issued a consumer alert at the beginning of this month warning that pirated software may contain malware. This includes counterfeit products that are made to look authentic. According to the alert, industry studies show that an increasing amount of software installed on computers nationally and internationally is pirated and that it often contains malware.
There are a number of ways pirated software is obtained. People can download it from unknown sellers or from peer-to-peer networks on the Internet. They can buy the actual discs from online auction sites or from street vendors. Consumers who order computers from overseas have found that the pre-installed software contains malware.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have found that criminals, hackers and hacker groups, and even organized crime rings are behind the pirated, malware-containing software. What’s in it for them? Once the malware takes hold of your computer, it can record your keystrokes and steal your personally identifiable information (PII), including Social Security numbers and birth dates. The malware can also corrupt the data on your computer and turn on your webcam and/or microphone. The malware can spread to other computers through thumb drives and emails. The criminals can use the infected computers to attack other computers and websites by denial of service attacks.
To avoid purchasing malware-infected software, the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and the FBI offer these software buying tips:
When buying a computer, always ask for a genuine, pre-installed operating system, and then check out the software package to make sure it looks authentic.
Purchase all software from an authorized retailer. To find out which retailers are authorized, check the company website for the product you want to buy.
Check out the company’s website to see the packaging of the software you want to buy.
Be suspicious of websites that do not provide contact information.
Be very careful when downloading software from the Internet. Only purchase software from well-known websites.
If you come across an offer of software for sale at a very low price, research the average price of the product. If the price seems too good to be true, it’s probably pirated.
If you are unsure of a website, contact your BBB at 812-473-0202, 800-359-0979, or www.evansville.bbb.org.
For more information you can trust, see: