Piracy as a Crimeware Defense

So, just a quick thought on this one. What if we, as security folks, made a serious endeavor to reduce the earning capability of those who create crimeware, spyware and other malware? What if we did to them exactly what the gaming companies and MPAA have been saying is killing their business? What if every time we saw a piece of “licensed” crimeware tool, we cracked it and published keygens and other cracks for it?

Sure, in the mid-term there would be more attackers able to use the malware. But, what if, in the longer term, less malware were actually created? What if the bar went up to the point where publishing these tools was no longer profitable? Would the numbers and evolution of malware be slowed?

I am asking, not because I have an answer in mind, but because I am curious. At what point does striking at the root of the profitability of criminals reduce their efforts and capabilities? Anyone with ideas or experience in this line of thought, please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your responses.

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About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

3 thoughts on “Piracy as a Crimeware Defense

  1. Makes sense if a significant amount of revenue actually comes from selling the tools. Do you know of any studies on this aspect of the “undernet”?

  2. There is a difference between “cracked” movies/music and “cracked” crimeware that negates the advantage you are trying to obtain by publishing “cracked” crimeware. The difference is that movies/music are primarily for personal use/enjoyment. Crimeware is not–at least not today. I think publishing cracked crimeware would only serve to increase its usage among the technically challenged and aspiring criminals who cannot afford it at present.

    In my opinion, the best way to solve this problem is: more cooperation among world governments in prosecutng internet crime, more education among personal computer users about security, more concern for security on the part of businesses/software manufacturers, and more time until better technology is available to combat it and the world economies become more aligned so there is not as much advantage to be gained from crimeware versus honest work..


  3. I can see your perspective. However, I think that removing some of the financial rewards for coding crimeware still might be useful. Sure, in the short term, more kiddies could use the tools, which might cause an uptick in malicious activity as a spike, but over time more detections would emerge as well as better defenses against those vectors. If it slowed down the creation of new tools, than likely a sustained dip would follow the spike in malicious activity, resulting in a longer lasting, and perhaps worthwhile reduction in attacker activity.

    Just a thought. As said before, more a rant than a call to action! 🙂

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