16 Oct 2012
Microsoft published its Security Intelligence Report Volume 13 last week with details on the malware landscape, focusing mostly on the connection between malware and illegal software downloads.
According to the report, today’s security problems mostly stem from unlicensed content - mainly music, films, games and software - that leads to malware. Microsoft research revealed that “76% of users that downloaded keygen or software cracks were also exposed to other, more dangerous malware, which is 10 percent higher than the average co-infection rate for other families.”
The security community has been discussing this for years and makes extensive efforts to inform users of the downside of accessing pirated products.
Directly linked to the piracy phenomenon is Blacole Exploit Kit – a crime pack gaining ground as one of the most dangerous attack tools against home users, companies and government organizations alike. This malware vector is only superseded by the Autorun worms and adware.
This “browser exploit pack” is installed onto compromised websites and waits for vulnerable browsers. The high-risk sites like those providing free downloads of media and applications are most likely to be used by crooks to disseminate malware. When the user accesses one such compromised site with a vulnerable browser, their computers immediately get infected and open to whatever malware the crook decides to install on the users’ systems.
Microsoft research revealed how Blacole reports go hand in hand with Keygen detections, making it crucial for users to seek the desired software and media from official trusted sources. “It's not just downloading license key generators, cracked software or free media files that expose users to malware; the act of visiting web pages of unknown origin, claiming to provide this type of free software download, is risky activity.”