Another Good Reason Not To Crack Graphics Software

Digital graphic design software–image editors, layout software, video production software, et cetera–usually comes at a considerable price-tag for the top-drawer product. A user wanting to freelance will find themselves dropping a considerable sum, usually in the neighborhood of $1000 or more for new purchasers, for software from Adobe and Quark.

It is also no secret that, as hard as companies like Adobe and Quark are working to provide their fans and users with their best product, there seem to be at least as many people trying to provide users with ways to get the services of these applications for free. One of the most prevalent forms of copy protection is that of the serial number key, a long, inscrutable string of letters and numbers that registration and activation programs will recognize as authorizing the issuer full use of the application’s license. Mostly today it’s found that entering an activation code key will unlock the features of a demo version, making it a fully-installed version, for example.

Can I Borrow Your Keys?

One development in the software cracking world is the key generator, or “keygen”. What this essentially is is a program that reverse-engineers the code in your applications used to generate the serial or registration number, returning a valid code that can then be used to crack open a demo version or make a trial version one’s own for free use.

you can pay for your trouble now–or pay for it later
Keygens can be found with not much effort on the internet, usually a Google search is all that is required to produce several sites. Recently, a keygen for Photoshop CS3 has been publicized that will generate a valid serial number code to make the demo version a fully workable one, and, for the budget-conscious, these keygens are free for the downloading.

But just as the old saw has it, you can pay for your trouble now–or pay for it later. And the costs of using a keygen to crack open a copy of Photoshop for personal use in the mid-to-long term may be more than merely worrying about a lawsuit for unlicensed software use.

I Think We’re A Clone Now

Recently reported by Softpedia, a keygen designed to crack open Photshop CS3 designed by “macROSS” has the potential to leave a gift that keeps on giving. As explained by Softpedia:

Free product keys for Photoshop CS3 are used as incentive in a social engineering scheme designed to convince unsuspecting users looking for a “free ride” to download and execute the code on their machine. Once a user deploys the Photoshop CS3 Extended keygen, his computer won’t be “his computer” any longer.

Technically speaking, Softpedia quoted SophosLabs, who said:

…analysts encountered a Trojan (Troj/Mdrop-BPE) that came bundled with a password key generator and a worm with IRC backdoor functionality. When run, the Trojan not only drops the password generator crack for Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Troj/Keygen-BI) but as an additional freebie, it potentially turns your computer into a IRC zombie machine (W32/IRCBot-WA) as well

Observing the sheer multiplicity of keygens, we might infer that little of this happens in a vacuum. We think it’s a reasonable conclusion to draw that the aforementioned keygen gift is probably not the only one.

Actually, A Simple Choice

There’s no shame in complaining about the price of software–some of it can be quite expensive. But what we seem to get from paying prices for premium applications are premium functionality–as witness the strides in functionality made by QuarkXPress and, most recently, Adobe with the Creative Suite 3.

not pirating software may be the law, but it’s also a good idea
But with the dubious nature and genesis of registration and activation circumvention schemes, and especially in light of this new revelation, we think the case is made more strongly than ever to simply avoid pirated software. if cost is an issue, we note that several FOSS up-and-comers such as Scribus and The GIMP exist that allow digital creatives to create quite well (whether or not they are creditable substitutes is a judgment that we find varies from user to user).

In the ongoing debate over whether or not software pricing is fair and whither circumventing copy protection is a valid form of protest, we’ve seen a whole gradient of opinions. But with keygens potentially zombifiying your computer, we think that no matter what one thinks, one observation must hold: not pirating software may be the law, but it’s also a good idea.