Malwarebytes to turn counterfeit license keys into good ones for free

The anti-virus maker will begin replacing counterfeit and pirated license keys.

(Image: MalwareBytes)

Malwarebytes is offering users of its anti-virus software up to 12 months' worth of protection for free if they are using an illegal or unauthorized license key.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said it will replace the keys of its anti-virus software for those who have been "inconvenienced by piracy or abuse." The so-called "amnesty" program will ensure keys that don't work will be replaced for future use.

Ransom malware costs $18 million in losses, says FBI

The FBI says the file-encrypting malware can cost individuals anywhere between $200 and $10,000 each time.

Read More

Chief executive Marcin Kleczynski said in a forum post that the move was in part because in the early days he "picked a very insecure license key algorithm" which made generating pirate keys easy.

"The problem with pirated keys it that they may collide with a legitimate key just by the sheer numbers," said Kleczynski. "Yes, this is silly, and yes, this is literally the first thing a professional software company thinks of when building license key generation, but when you think you're building a product for just a few people you don't hash out these details."

The company is now moving towards a stronger license key system, but in the meantime the company said there was no simple way to prevent legitimate users from losing out.

"If you are a true pirate, the furthest you will get is a year's worth of Malwarebytes," said Kleczynski.

The company has a history of leniency and promoting fair-use of its products, even if it comes at a cost. Two years ago, the company asked users to buy its products instead of downloading them illegally by including a fake entry in the malware report saying, "dont.steal.our.software."

Speaking to TorrentFreak at the time, Malwarebytes' vice-president of research Bruce Harrison said being aggressive against piracy is one of the "quickest ways to alienate your fans."

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All