Cracked Software: A Very Bad Good Idea…


Sarah had just finished her multimedia graphic training. Now she was ready to enter the job market. Sociable and good company, she had many friends on social networks, and an endless directory of telephone contacts. Many people had already asked her to do some minor graphic work. Where possible, in the past she had offered her work for free, as a courtesy, but then the studies had absorbed all her limited time and often she had to refuse to help.

But now things had changed. She intended to accept all the proposals that came to her, and to live off her talent by working independently.

It is never easy to start a business. Administrative formalities can sometimes seem endless. And then to start off on the right foot you need to have the right equipment. It takes initial capital.

Regarding this point Sarah was lucky enough to be able to count on her parents. They had bought her a cutting-edge computer: ultra-fast processor, high-performance video card, top of the range RAM memory, SSD hard disk. A true racehorse. To top it off was an incredible screen.

Sarah’s parents wanted the best for their beloved daughter: thirty-two inches, a stunning resolution. The quality of the images it offered almost seemed to suggest that reality is in low definition. Indeed, it certainly was!

Unfortunately Sarah’s equipment was not yet complete. Now she needed the software to express all her creativity. Thanks to her training, she had become an expert in a famous software suite, a set of specific programs capable of coordinating with each other. It was said to be the best thing for graphic designers. Sarah could not even imagine working with other programs, also because she wasn’t aware of alternative softwares.

When she found out the price of the license, she couldn’t believe her eyes. She would have had to pay an impossible amount! Given the investment already made by her parents, she didn’t dare ask for their help again. It was really too much! Above all, she knew that it was possible to do otherwise, also because she had already done it with her old computer.

Where money does not go, relationships can go. Sarah picked up the phone and called Maeve, an old school friend.

“Hi Maeve, it’s Sarah! Look, I have a new computer, but I don’t have any software yet. Could you crack them for me?”

“Um, you know, it’s becoming a little more difficult than it once was… but I think I might be able to help you, not without some effort anyway… See you tomorrow? 6 pm at your place?”

Maeve was a real friend!

“Ok, great! You are really great! I’ll buy the beers. Cool, see you tomorrow!” Sarah was super excited.

The next day, as expected, Maeve went to Sarah’s house. She had prepared all the stuff the day before. So she arrived equipped with an external hard disk on which she had downloaded all the necessary softwares. Now they just had to find the updated crack.

She knew all the right sites. She just typed warez, crack, serialz or keygen, followed by the name of the desired software, to access a lot of results of the different search engines, more or less specific.

It didn’t always work, but after trying and trying again, at the end of the day you were always going to find something useful. And with the activation codes, the appropriate procedures, the crack of the configuration files and so on, all the windows that prevented the installation of the softwares, or the block of advanced functions and other similar limitations, disappeared as if by magic.

It didn’t take long for Maeve to find the right crack. Sarah was in seventh heaven. Great! Fantastic! The two friends were finally able to celebrate their victory against the malicious proprietary software. They had won!

But the enthusiasm did not last long. A few days later, Sarah noticed some small changes on her computer. A somewhat disturbing search bar had appeared in her browser. It also seemed to her that more advertisements than usual appeared on her screen: “Lose weight in three days!”, “Become a millionaire in one click!”, “Find your soul mate” and so on.

At first, she didn’t worry about it; but with the passage of time she began to face increasing difficulties in living with these unwanted interruptions. It seemed to be at the amusement park, at the casino, with all the lights and colors and sounds that tried to pull her to their side, to capture her limited attention!

Sarah tried hard to get rid of it, but she couldn’t. The thought that all that all that mess could be connected to the programs with which they had cracked the proprietary software suite never occurred to her. Among other things, it seemed that the computer chip had suddenly become slow… but how was it possible? Should she upgrade the hardware already? Buy more memory? A more powerful processor?

Maeve once again came to rescue her. But she couldn’t get anywhere. She tried everything, from deactivating the plugin that seemed to control the anomalous search bar in the browser, to eliminating it; she tried to reinstall the browser, to change it… nothing to do.

The malware remained silently and tenaciously hidden in the very bowels of Sarah’s computer and it was now very difficult to be able to remove it, also because how could you bring the computer to the customer service with all the illegal software?

To Understand

Using cracks, keygens and activation systems to crack proprietary software was no different than playing Russian roulette. Sometimes everything went smoothly, but often there was damage! These small executable files rarely delivered the keys to the more expensive software for free. Very often they took advantage of the accesses guaranteed at the time of their installation to install in turn all kinds of malware, viruses or Trojan horses.

An effective ploy to mask the scans of antivirus software; often README files even required that you had to disable the antivirus to ensure that the crack worked. As if to say: open doors and windows, we are coming to place some microphones and cameras in your home!

Sometimes a simple visit to a crack website was enough to infect your machine. By the way, many were able to run scheduled scripts to exploit some security vulnerabilities on the target machines. Often the most malicious results were at the top of the search engine results.

But don’t think you can stay safe using peer to peer networks, such as bittorrent or the like: most of the time the crack was the same, spread everywhere. The same reasoning applied to the already pirated complete software (also called warez).

Recall that then many countries in Europe and in the United States, the law imposed severe sanctions (up to several thousand euros of fines and two years in prison) for those found guilty of participating in computer piracy. In addition to the legal risks, the use of cracked software in the business context is pure madness in terms of IT security. If you have been warned about something you are half way to being saved.

Good Practice

If you really have to use proprietary softwares, use the original software, even if it is expensive.

In any case, why don’t you think about open source alternatives or free software? In the vast majority of cases it is possible to obtain exactly the same result with these softwares and all this without paying a cent, at least not to install the program!

Of course there are big differences. First of all, a collective assumption of responsibility, given that the proper functioning of open and free software requires the active contribution of as many people as possible. Possibly also through donations and incentives to be allocated to free projects.


You are interested in free software, but don’t know where to start? The French association Framasoft lists many free and free alternatives to the most popular software and services. In particular, it provides an easy-to-use database; just go to the following address and type in the name of a proprietary software which you are seeking alternatives for.

The same association also offers free services, from cloud solutions to collaborative writing, from shared agendas to software versioning systems.

There are also independent servers that offer various services to related subjects, usually for political and non-commercial purposes.

We remember that in any case that free does not mean free: financial support to associations and foundations engaged in the dissemination of free software is always welcome, we can all contribute. It is a matter of rolling up our sleeves, and not to assume that the only possibilities are those offered by proprietary software.