Promise of Free Software Delivers Malware

Promise of Free Software Delivers Malware

Beware of Key Generators

By Bob Rankin

Recently, we have been made aware that simple searches for PC Matic on YouTube – are resulting in videos that promote ‘key generator’ software that promises free access to popular applications like PC Matic.


Not surprisingly, those looking for “no cost” software – are being lead directly to an onslaught of adware/malware and promotions for products unrelated to their original search.

Important to note – this issue is not exclusive to our software – you will find similar traps set for those searching other popular titles like (Office, Photoshop…)..–PC Pitstop.

Beware of Key Generators

Twenty years ago, a key generator was a machine in the hardware store that made duplicates of your house keys. Today, a key generator (or keygen) is a tool that software pirates use to illegally activate or unlock commercial software. Aside from the obvious ethical issues, there’s another reason why you should steer clear of these things. Read on to learn about the hazards of keygens…

What is a Key Generator?

“You can’t cheat an honest man” is an old proverb, and it has its complement: it’s pretty easy to cheat dishonest people. That’s why malware distributors love to target people who steal software, music, movies, games, and other intellectual property. One of the favorite traps set for pirates is the key generator.

Sure, you could plant a virus or Trojan in a complete software package. But why bother uploading hundreds of megabytes to various sites, or making such a large package available to downloaders, when a small file of a few thousand bytes will catch just as many fish?

Trial versions of programs are available from the developers’ sites. What pirates often want is a license key that transforms a trial version into a full-featured version that never expires. Programs that generate illicit license keys are called “key generators” or “keygens” for short.
Key Generators

Keygens don’t have to be very big. All they need to do is prompt the user for the same registration data that the software does and then use the same algorithm that the software uses to generate a license key. A few dozen kilobytes of code are ample for these simple tasks. The small keygen packages are often spread more widely and quickly than gigabyte-sized packages containing pre-cracked software.

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Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

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6 thoughts on “Promise of Free Software Delivers Malware

  1. Fascinating that those responding understand how to get around this issue. In the past, all of my software was activated with keygens.

    [Activate the midi audio!]

    Now that I work from home (on my PC), I do not take risks looking for free keys for AV or other security applications. Not only is it a risk, but it is a waste of time.

    Some companies have adjusted their prices so that it is much easier for me to buy and move on instead of hunting a key and having trouble going forward.

  2. I have long suspected software and media companies of covertly encouraging the dropping such programmes into newsgroups in an attempt to discourage piracy. When will they learn that the way to discourage piracy is to sell their products as cheaply as they can

  3. There's plenty of secure file sharers who check for malware before allowing it to be uploaded to their websites/torrents – and most every legitimate(?) keygen will trigger a malware warning from AV. Yes, users need to be aware – but fortunately (or unfortunately if you're one of the vendors charging too much for something people will only use once or twice) there will always be a way to get around the ridiculous prices that some software companies charge. Personally I'd never use PC Matic, but if I did, I could easily find a safe keygen for it. Youtube would not be where I'd look for it though. 😉

  4. i realized a long time ago, keygen's that are around 600kb are NOT real…they are malware droppers. these days if i suspect something, i scan it first and if i still feel suspicious…deleted it gets.

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