Digital piracy is defined as an act of stealing legitimate digital products, imitating, or modifying them for illegal distribution. Digital pirates hack software and bypass their built-in authentication features so that it can be used without going through the original owner’s security and authentication protocols. Common victims of digital piracy are Microsoft products like Windows Operating Systems and Office products. Adobe products are also commonly pirated. Digital games are also victims to digital piracy. Almost every known program or software has its own pirated version. Some files like songs, movies, videos, and photos are also being pirated online.
Unfortunately, many individuals, even organizations, and businesses use pirated software or files to cut costs. Some of them are distributed for free or with less cost than the original. According to some studies, back in 2010, around $59 billion were lost due to digital piracy.
So, how does digital piracy affect digital security?
A Trojan Horse
Most pirated digital products can be acquired for free. Which attracts people to opt for pirated products. Imagine getting a fully functional Windows 10 Enterprise for free right? Or a full Adobe software package without paying a penny. Surely, if you are broke and you want any of them, pirated content could solve your problem. However, there was a saying that goes like this, “nothing is free in this world”.
If you have installed a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop and your antivirus software popped you a warning, it’s probably doing that for a reason. Most pirated products, especially the free ones, come along with a virus. You might not see a visible effect but a trojan virus can be gathering important information from your device and send them to its creator. There were reports that some trojan malware from pirated content can give attackers access to your camera and microphone. Worse, they can peek into your banking information. Pirated products compromise your digital security. It’s like giving a thief a key to your house.
Some argue that detection from anti-viruses are false positives, meaning, they’re not really harmful and won’t do you harm. It’s important to know that digital product manufacturers like Microsoft and Adobe send reports to antivirus software developers to properly identify your product. If your antivirus detects a different fingerprint from the product you are installing, it may tag it as a virus. However, even if the pirated software doesn’t come along with any harm, the website from which you downloaded it will most pose greater threats. Websites that distribute pirated products are usually filled with not just annoying but dangerous ads and phishing schemes. These websites may suspiciously ask you some details and permissions that if you’re not careful, you might be giving away sensitive data.
An Economic Betrayal
Apart from digital security compromise, digital products also hurt the economy. The amount you saved paying a legit software also means less revenue from the developer which will mean less amount of taxes paid. Taxes that can be used to help the nation. Ironically, using pirated products is like killing the person you love. Imagine you are enjoying their product, but you became part of killing their business. Many do not realize this, but digital piracy encourages cybercriminals more. The less money and profit cybercriminals earn, the less crime they will commit. Also, since you are illegally using their product, you become a criminal yourself. Well, that may sound a bit exaggerated but it’s true. You become a cybercriminal yourself just by using pirated products. If caught red-handed, there’s not much you can do.
As you can see, supporting digital piracy does not only compromise your security but also makes you a criminal. It’s not worth it.
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