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Microsoft: Pirated Win 7 Causes Malware Outbreak

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 44 comments

Microsoft blames pirated copies of Windows 7 for the high rate of malware infections.

Yesterday Microsoft's Jeff Williams, the principal group program manager for the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, said that there is a direct correlation between the current malware infection rate and software piracy. To be more specific, he said that countries with high piracy rates are more likely to be infected by malicious code because they're reluctant to apply updates.

His theory is based on Windows and the security updates that consumers are neglecting to install through Windows Update. Microsoft's latest biannual security intelligence report, found here, claims that China's piracy rate is more than four times than that of the United States. France and Brazil also have extremely high piracy rates, and each country--including China--use Windows Update significantly less than consumers in the U.S.

Has Microsoft kicked itself in the rear with Windows Genuine Advantage? Although the company's pirate sniffing software has been successful in tagging non-legit copies of Windows, WGA is also turning consumers away from the updating process, especially those who bought a copy of Windows and feel justified in installing the OS on multiple computers. While there are cracks available to bypass WGA, there are many users who aren't quite so PC-savvy, leaving them wide open for attack.

As reported by Computerworld, there are also legit users who won't bow down to Microsoft's anti-piracy efforts: users in China, the United States, and other countries have protested against the software since its was originally embedded into the OS. With that said, perhaps Microsoft made the malware infection rate worse by locking out the non-legitimate copies of Windows. After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?

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  • 16 Hide
    stridervm , November 3, 2009 10:31 PM
    Generally I'd agree. But there's also pirated Windows downloads out there that also has keyloggers, trojans and viruses, both intentional and unintentionally done by its source.

    But I think user stupidity is still the primary culprit
  • 12 Hide
    acecombat , November 3, 2009 11:12 PM
    "After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"

    They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.
  • 10 Hide
    dtm4trix , November 3, 2009 11:20 PM
    acecombat"After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.



    Microsoft should be a little more generous with us who pony over the money to buy legit copies of their software. I build or upgrade my computer every 6 months plus I like to do a fresh install of my OS every year or so as to keep it fresh and snappy. Its a pain in the A$$ to call MS everytime I do a fresh install.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    stridervm , November 3, 2009 10:31 PM
    Generally I'd agree. But there's also pirated Windows downloads out there that also has keyloggers, trojans and viruses, both intentional and unintentionally done by its source.

    But I think user stupidity is still the primary culprit
  • 12 Hide
    acecombat , November 3, 2009 11:12 PM
    "After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"

    They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.
  • 5 Hide
    SAL-e , November 3, 2009 11:19 PM
    Propaganda/distraction from MS. Outbreak of malware means that malware is spreading quickly. The problem is that all legal copies are getting infected also. Just this month MS has released 2 set of patches for IE out bound. Why? Because they thought they fix the problem, but they found out that they missed the target. They rushed new patch that caused some problems. Just today they released fix for that. If their OS had better design (not making windows dependent on IE) may be we was going not to worry about malware so much.
  • 10 Hide
    dtm4trix , November 3, 2009 11:20 PM
    acecombat"After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.



    Microsoft should be a little more generous with us who pony over the money to buy legit copies of their software. I build or upgrade my computer every 6 months plus I like to do a fresh install of my OS every year or so as to keep it fresh and snappy. Its a pain in the A$$ to call MS everytime I do a fresh install.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 3, 2009 11:30 PM
    If everyone could get updates, why would anyone buy Windows?
  • 3 Hide
    dirtykid , November 3, 2009 11:41 PM
    "Has Microsoft kicked itself in the rear with Windows Genuine Advantage?"

    Pirate, Shareware, Freeware... I have come to realize that free software often has some price attached to it. Be it nag screens, un-advertized features (spyware, ad delivery), or even the occasional unintended completely not working....
  • 1 Hide
    dirtykid , November 3, 2009 11:43 PM
    dirtykid"Has Microsoft kicked itself in the rear with Windows Genuine Advantage?"Pirate, Shareware, Freeware... I have come to realize that free software often has some price attached to it. Be it nag screens, un-advertized features (spyware, ad delivery), or even the occasional unintended completely not working....


    hahaha "free software" DOES seem attached to advertisement delivery
  • 0 Hide
    ominous prime , November 3, 2009 11:58 PM
    stridervmGenerally I'd agree. But there's also pirated Windows downloads out there that also has keyloggers, trojans and viruses, both intentional and unintentionally done by its source.But I think user stupidity is still the primary culprit


    I agree with you that a vast majority of malware infections are caused by user stupidity. Just because one is open to infection, doesn't mean that they will become infected, depends on their general intelligence. If you are a moron who clicks links that say, "DO NOT CLICK, WILL INFECT YOUR PC WITH TROJANZ!!!" (in a study I read, a bunch of idiots clicked it on a google ad, of course it didn't infect the users) but you're probably going to get malware, etc. If you're stupid.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2009 12:32 AM
    The thing that Pissed me off the most with Windows Vista (legally purchased) and WGA was when I would boot my system, half the time, if my system was not connected, when you would right click on My Computer, near the bottom where it says Windows Activation it would say Status Unavailable.

    This would irritate the hell out of me as the system would act as if it had never been activated. Just to get the above dialog window, you'd have to click on Start > Run and you would have to enter explorer.exe then when the window opens, you would have to access it that way. Same thing goes for the control panel and Network neighborhood.

    WGA just creates more problems than it's worth.

    Once Windows has been activated, it should remain activated instead of constantly checking to see if you pirated your own legally purchased copy.

    This makes you think of the World Wars, where in some European countries when you had to have your papers on hand, ready to present at a moments notice just to prove who you were.
  • 1 Hide
    sanchz , November 4, 2009 12:33 AM
    I know that if you do not own a legit copy of Windows you can't complain for updates, yet MS does very little to combat piracy.
    First of all, if there are 3 PCs on a house each running pirated Vista, then the "special" Windows 7 Family Pack won't work (since they're upgrade editions), and it is very unlikely that the owner of the 3 PCs pays for 3 Full Editions of Win 7 ($330), which just worsens the piracy problem.
    Then, MS MUST understand that people in developing countries (I live in one) are able to pay for a $110 OS which can just be downloaded for free. Also, exchange rates (such as in my country) make US Dollars too expensive for local people, further making the OS more expensive (example, Win 7 would cost me about $400, local cureency, but the relative cost for a person in the US would be like $250 dollars). I've seen some companies counter this by charging lower prices for software in my country (example: Resident Evil 5 PC costs $25 US dollars here, yet it is not considered entirely "affordable") which can really be a solution to piracy (I mean, analyze the economic situation and act accordingly).
  • 3 Hide
    sanchz , November 4, 2009 12:41 AM
    ^EDIT
    sanchzThen, MS MUST understand that people in developing countries (I live in one) are NOT able to pay for a $110 OS which can just be downloaded for free.

  • 1 Hide
    redgarl , November 4, 2009 1:38 AM
    Malaware for legit Win 7 >:p 
  • 1 Hide
    wildwell , November 4, 2009 3:25 AM
    It sounds like a lot of people that paid for their software are being infected too. Is WGA the real problem?
  • 1 Hide
    seatrotter , November 4, 2009 4:20 AM
    On a different angle, I think MS should start forcing 3rd party softwares to work properly under a limited account (as opposed to requiring an administrator account). Heck, MS should start making it a pain to use software that requires administrator account. Along with it, MS should, by default, make the default account a limited one (not an admin, w/ or w/o UAC).

    Yeah, I know. Legacy software. But then again, when will MS start? Or they don't ever plan to?

    Do I even have to mention why?

    Let's start with a benign software. What? It wants to install a service just to check for updates? Go ahead. A flaw or bug in that service and you're as good as compromised.

    Then there's the compromised software. One can never be too paranoid, especially with legitimate sites (offering software/drivers) regularly being compromised and infecting/replacing files and programs.
  • -2 Hide
    sleepflower , November 4, 2009 4:42 AM
    acecombat"After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.


    Stop whining, 20 minutes is not that much time. At most 20 mins every 6 months? The internet made it far easier to pirate and I know people who still use illegal copies of the OS, then ask me to fix their PC as it is not running properly, only to find it has a virus or along those lines and 50% of those times it is part of the disc image they installed the OS with!
  • -1 Hide
    sleepflower , November 4, 2009 4:45 AM
    Better family pack options would be good, like the 3 user limit with office.
  • -6 Hide
    ossie , November 4, 2009 5:16 AM
    $even pu$hers just bragged with 3% lu$er base (what's the actual "pirated" portion?) and already "Microsoft blames pirated copies of Windows 7 for the high rate of malware infections"?
    Poor micro$uxx, already in whining mode. Of course, anyone else is to blame for their failures.
    Windblow$ is the greatest!
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , November 4, 2009 5:20 AM
    Kevin ParrishAfter all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?

    Wow...
    sleepflowerBetter family pack options would be good, like the 3 user limit with office.

    Yeah... I own a lot of computers... I only bought one license...

    Thogh running an unregistered copy is real easy... 30 days, reset, 30 days, reset... 120 days activation free no worry. =D
  • 2 Hide
    sorin7486 , November 4, 2009 5:36 AM
    I'd say the fact that disabling security and updates are among the first things people do on a new install also helps. Maybe MS should design it better so that it doesn't get on everybody's nerves so much and then they'll keep it enabled.
  • 1 Hide
    Drag0nR1der , November 4, 2009 6:45 AM
    acecombat"After all, if 41-percent of the world is running pirated Windows, maybe Microsoft should reconsider WGA?"They should...I purchased Vista and when I changed some hardware after a HDD crash and reinstalled, my old activation code no longer worked, I then had to call them and waste ~20 mins explaining what I changed to get it activated. I then vowed to never purchase an OS that requires such an activation system again.


    Would this be because you purchased an OEM version.... which isn't meant for consumer use? I've changed parts a number of times with retail versions and never run in to this problem.

    I'd be fine with MS's policy of activasion, if only it worked. They have to do something, to protect themselves.

    I have only ever had a malware issue twice that had any affect on my pc (other than a notification in my monthly virus scan and a prompt removal) in my lifetime. TBH, most malware comes from searching dodgy sites and installing dodgy software and hokey copies of windows, for these people (of which I have been one at times) they should live with the consequences of their actions. If they want a free OS, use Linux, after all hardly anyone bothers writing malware for that.
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