Vanity, Cracks and Malware
Today, a large amount of software products include mechanisms to counter software piracy. However, most protection mechanisms can be easily circumvented by applying soft-ware patches (cracks) or license key generators (keygens) with seemingly no financial incentives. The authors' research shows that the distribution of cracks and keygens not only al-lows miscreants to generate revenue (e.g. through advertising or malware infections), but it also leads to high risks for the end-users of pirated software. They collected more than 43; 900 download links and analyzed more than 23; 100 (3; 551 unique) real-world cracks, showing that these tools are heavily used by criminals to spread malware.