Monday, November 3, 2008

Software Piracy (A Parable)

YAR! The diseased dangerous life fer me, HO HO!

GRR… had a nice, long, well-written article almost done and lost my draft. Here’s the abridged version

I don’t normally pirate software. I used to years ago, but got sick of it and switched to Linux for my desktop (already had it on my server). I found an application for Windows that I really wanted but it was $500-600 which is a lot of money for something I might not like.

So I pulled it down off BitTorrent. Knowing it might be a malware vehicle I grabbed an Open source virus scanner and scanned it before installing. It came up clean and I ran the patcher to disable the licensing check. A few hours later my Automatic Updates are turned off and won’t come back on.

I start throwing all the free and open source malware removal tools I can at it and have little success. After three days (interleaved with work, sleep, etc) I think I’ve got my system clean but it required editing my NTFS partition from Linux and hand-hacking my registry using chntpw. I used to know quite a bit about removing Windows malware but I’ve gotten rusty, what with all this Linux and Mac OS X usage and all.

I learned a lot in the process but I estimate I spent 12-18 hours in this mess. Most of the time I can’t actually use my computer because I’m not willing to supply any login credentials to a compromised system. If I assume that my the value of my time is reflected by my gross salary, I spent about $400-600 worth of time on this, not counting the loss of my free time. Since the software costs $500-600 it probably would have been cheaper for me just to buy it.

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