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March 2004

Pirated software security: Patching pirated software

Software pirates, eh? Make the scurvy dogs walk the plank, matey! They be fish food in Davy Jones' locker... Arrrgh!" The salty language is a little thick, but that's the prevailing attitude software vendors and security managers have toward providing patches to users of pirated software. Microsoft, the biggest malware and hacker target, won't allow the use of Windows Update to easily patch pirated copies of Windows. And AV and firewall vendors are famous for hiding patches for undisclosed vulnerabilities in their feature set upgrades and signature updates -- available only to paying customers. Their disdain makes sense. According to the Business Software Alliance, more than 39 percent of all software is stolen. An IDC study found that every 1 percent of pirated software removes roughly $40 billion and 150,000 jobs from the global economy. Providing those users with security patches is akin to GM honoring extended service warranties for stolen cars. On the other hand, patching pirated software is similar to needle exchange ...

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