Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

1/27/2009
12:11 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Software Piracy Places Everyone At Risk

On Monday, the United States claimed victory in a World Trade Organization case against China for that country's alleged lax stance toward software piracy. What's that have to do with IT security? Plenty, as the recent Downadup outbreak, as well as a number of new Trojans to hit the Mac OS X platform, highlight.

On Monday, the United States claimed victory in a World Trade Organization case against China for that country's alleged lax stance toward software piracy. What's that have to do with IT security? Plenty, as the recent Downadup outbreak, as well as a number of new Trojans to hit the Mac OS X platform, highlight.As we covered in this blog post, the Downadup outbreak has rapidly spread in geographic areas that also correlate to the highest piracy rates. Stolen copies of Windows don't get all of the updates, and those with stolen copies are much more likely to turn off their automatic updates. Pirated users fear Microsoft, or any software vendor for that matter, will be able to detect the software isn't legit -- and shut it down, or perhaps even prosecute. Though overseas prosecution seems highly unlikely.

Some interesting statistics, gathered by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC research, show software piracy rates range from 20% in the United States to more than 90% in poor and emerging countries. They provide a chart of their global piracy estimates here.

It's tough to tell whether the BSA's piracy numbers are inflated, but they're probably close enough to show just how big the software piracy problem currently is. But I'm not concerned so much about the financial loss this brings for software vendors for this post. I want to point out how the piracy problem also is an IT security problem.

Consider the recent pirated/Trojan-horsed version of Apple's latest iWork '09 trial pack. Why anyone would want to download a copied version of freely available trial software is beyond me: but apparently, they do. This Trojan is designed to pilfer usernames and passcodes used to authenticate to the Mac OS. Then, Monday, the news broke that a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Mac also is circulating with a crack application that includes Photoshop serial numbers.

Any user that installs it, thinking they're getting one over on Adobe with a free copy of the high-end version of its Photoshop software -- they're not. The application apparently steals the administrator password when it asks for authentication, and sends them to two IP addresses. If the malware writers successfully use those credentials, it could be the most expensive "free" software application one could download. It seems, based on various security vendor's analysis, that the two Trojans are related.

While it looks like those careless enough to download the cracked Adobe applications would only harm themselves, we just don't know what the attackers have in mind with the affected systems. And those estimated 15 million users who are infected with Downadup are placing all of us at risk. Security researchers are still waiting to see what the creators will do with this massive network of infected systems -- there's nothing to stop the creators from deploying a massive botnet to levy denial-of-service attacks, or send massive amounts of spam. These systems could even be used to seed a massive Internet worm. While we'll probably find out soon enough what the real intentions are, we can be certain that the Downadup outbreak shows just how dangerous software piracy can be for everyone.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/2/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9498
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
Apache Guacamole 1.1.0 and older may mishandle pointers involved inprocessing data received via RDP static virtual channels. If a userconnects to a malicious or compromised RDP server, a series ofspecially-crafted PDUs could result in memory corruption, possiblyallowing arbitrary code to be executed...
CVE-2020-3282
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management Edition, Cisco Unified Communications Manager IM & Presence Service, and Cisco Unity Connection could allow an unauthenticated, remote attack...
CVE-2020-5909
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, when users run the command displayed in NGINX Controller user interface (UI) to fetch the agent installer, the server TLS certificate is not verified.
CVE-2020-5910
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the Neural Autonomic Transport System (NATS) messaging services in use by the NGINX Controller do not require any form of authentication, so any successful connection would be authorized.
CVE-2020-5911
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the NGINX Controller installer starts the download of Kubernetes packages from an HTTP URL On Debian/Ubuntu system.