The Dangers of Warez

Warez is defined as copyrighted works distributed without fees or royalties, and may be traded, in general violation of copyright law.

This week a customer brought us a laptop that was a victim of warez sites. Their teenager had been downloading games from these sites so he could play them without paying for them. The problem, aside from the blatant copyright violation, is that these files are typically laden with viruses. Antivirus software is not foolproof. When a Trojan is embedded in a file, such as a game, the user is in effect giving authorization to run the program including all lines of code therein. Depending on the code inserted, the virus could be used to steal credit card information, take over your computer to be used in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, display unwanted advertising, or any number of unwanted activities. In this particular case, the virus disabled the antivirus software and began downloading adware to display advertising. Multiple toolbars were installed in the web browser and the screen was littered with pop up and pop under ads. Typically viruses that can disable antivirus software cannot be removed from within Windows. Most major antivirus companies provide recovery CDs for download. These can be used to boot the computer into a Linux operating system, scan and remove the software, before the virus can execute. Keep in mind, these should be downloaded and created from a clean system. Some viruses can interfere with the creation process. Irwin Electronics has already created a number of discs to assist us in removing these viruses. This case proved to be an exception to the rule, and is the reason for this blog post. Following the removal from the rescue disc, the problems were not resolved. We have been doing this for a long time, and have many tools at our disposal. We proceeded to scan with one program after another. Each program identified, and attempted to clean or remove, many files that were identified as containing a virus, adware, or other malware. Eventually we were able to whittle the list down to 2 infections. The remaining 2 however proved to be nearly impossible to remove. By the time we were done, Windows was so damaged that it would lock up or reboot with a blue screen. We began to move to the next set of tools in our arsenal that help to repair windows. These too were proving ineffective. All of this takes time. When a customer is paying by the hour, you reach a point where further efforts become cost prohibitive. Sure, if this would have been one of our computers, and we were so inclined, we could have continued and eventually cleaned the system. We reached a point where reimaging the system to factory default became the most reasonable option. We do not like to resort to such drastic measures, but rest assured, our competition would have long before trying so hard. Some computer companies would have convinced the customer it was time to upgrade to a shiny new laptop. We are not in the business of selling computers. Once we made the decision that it was time to quit, we continued basically working for free. After reimaging the computer, we installed all the latest patches, updates, and service packs. Next we installed new antivirus software, removed unnecessary trial ware, and installed programs our client needed. We configured all the options on each piece of software we installed and fully tested the system. When we returned the system to our customer, it was better than new!

The whole point of this is not necessarily to say Irwin Electronics is the greatest computer repair company in the Phoenix area. We like to think we are, but this is to state the dangers in Warez sites. Do not believe that just because you have antivirus software you’re safe. Viruses are nasty. We’ve talked before about what they can do. Now you can see that removing them can be just as bad. No matter how you look at it, viruses are expensive. They steal your credit, steal your identity, and trash your computer. All this time, work, and expense because someone wanted to save a few dollars on a game. Irwin Electronics specializes in virus removal. We see this all the time. If you still think it can’t happen to you, do yourself a favor and write down this number- 480-382-4761. Not if, but when, disaster strikes give us a call. We will be happy to help you.