Like most other software packages the popular Malwarebytes application is heavily pirated. Instead of paying for an upgrade some people choose to download a keygen or crack to activate the program.
To confront unauthorized users the makers of Malwarebytes decided to add these circumvention tools to their standard malware scan. This means that pirates, in addition to any spy- or malware, will also see keygens and cracks listed in the scan results.
The company lists the circumvention tools under the vendor name dont.steal.our.software, hoping to send a gentle but clear message to those who chose to pirate instead of pay. Curious about this anti-piracy approach, TorrentFreak reached out to the San Jose company to learn more.
Malwarebytes’ Bruce Harrison told TorrentFreak that the detection works through heuristic and direct means. The program’s functionality is not affected in any way but in some cases Malwarebytes also displays a prompt reminding users that they are running a pirated version. This second notification can be cancelled by the user.
The software vendor says it prefers this softer approach over the more aggressive option of locking Malwarebytes down completely.
“Long ago we figured that being super aggressive against piracy is one of the quickest ways to alienate your fans as it so often backfires and makes legitimate usage a problem,” Harrison says.
Malwarebytes is aware of the fact that there are a lot of pirates out there who don’t want to pay. However, rather than cracking down on them they chose to view these as people who can promote their product to others.
“Piracy is not really a huge problem for us in my opinion. There are a lot of people who simply won’t pay for our software and being aggressive against them won’t change that,” Harrison told us.
While Malwarebytes doesn’t have a huge problem with people pirating their software, the company does believe that there are security risks attached to online piracy. In particular Harrison warns people who use pirated operating systems as these often can’t be updated, leaving users more vulnerable to malware and viruses.
As for the Malwarebytes pirates, they can expect more gentle reminders in the future. However, despite their deviant behavior the company recognizes that even the pirates have contributed to the rapid growth of the software.
“Taken together we had one hell of a word of mouth push that really got our business going. Our fans have been an integral part of putting us on the map and yes, this does include the pirates.”