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Software Theft a Problem For Actual Thieves, Too 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-it's-ubisoft's-fault-somehow dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Pity the criminal mastermind. After all, he's a victim too, reports FoxNews.com. Despite the sophisticated DRM baked into the ZeuS bot to protect it from theft, that's exactly what has happened. 'ZeuS is actually being pirated, so you can get all the versions for free,' said Roel Schouwenberg, senior anti-virus researcher with security software firm Kaspersky Labs. 'They introduced a hardware-based activation process similar to Windows activation, to make sure only one purchased copy of the ZeuS kit — the kit that produces malware — can run on one computer,' said Sergei Shevchenko, senior malware analyst for security software company PC Tools."
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Software Theft a Problem For Actual Thieves, Too

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:10AM (#33775346) Homepage Journal

    Its the worlds smallest violin, playing just for you.

    • ZeuS Genuine Advantage

  • by foobsr (693224) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:12AM (#33775358) Homepage Journal

    ... you can copy.

    As simple as that.

    CC.

  • Yeah, right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark (865376)

    a) Sharing duplicates is not theft of the original
    b) There are no canons on ships involved.

    • s/canon/cannon/

    • by jamesh (87723) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:23AM (#33775388)

      a) Sharing duplicates is not theft of the original
      b) There are no canons on ships involved.

      I know you're just trying to be funny but have you ever actually been to Eastern Europe??? Software theft over there is exactly that - guys with eye patches, wooden legs, and parrots on their shoulders cruising around in great big ships with canons on them. And when they duplicate your software, they do take the original too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jurily (900488)

        but have you ever actually been to Eastern Europe?

        You mean the countries where tax evasion is a national sport, the people don't even realize they should pay for software, and when you tell them, they know you're joking?

        I personally have not seen *anyone* who paid for any version of Windows unless their company got hit with an extensive tax audit. I'm from Hungary.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I don't know which Hungary do you came from, because all of the companies I worked for had legal Windows. In fact, I personally have several licenses.

        • Re:Yeah, right (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:13AM (#33775514)

          but have you ever actually been to Eastern Europe?

          You mean the countries where tax evasion is a national sport, the people don't even realize they should pay for software, and when you tell them, they know you're joking?

          I personally have not seen *anyone* who paid for any version of Windows unless their company got hit with an extensive tax audit. I'm from Hungary.

          I'm from Hungary too and I pay for Windows every time I buy a pre-built PC. (Which is the majority of purchases.)

          I also implicitly pay for Windows every time I pay taxes (and I do, not the least because there's a significant VAT on all consumption) because the government site-licenses Windows for all educational institutions and all government computers - for a lot of money. Windows license fees are slowly but surely becoming part of the tax system in more and more parts of the world.

          Private persons indeed generally don't buy Windows here (as copying software without reselling it for financial gain is not against the law in Hungary), and Microsoft is part of that too: the BSA reassures hungarian citizens every year that they will not audit private persons (they cannot by law). Most of the businesses where I worked did buy Windows.

          The revenue numbers of Microsoft Hungary seem to support this.

          Furthermore, because Microsoft turns a blind eye to piracy here they have encroached Windows to a large degree - giving other software like Linux little chance to spread. The well-known "Microsoft is better off if people pirate Windows instead of using Linux" concept.

          Later on, once the country has a higher GDP and the legal environment has been manipulated more in Microsoft's favor they will tighten the finger-screw a bit more, and start auditing private persons as well.

          Until then all Microsoft needs is a continued monopoly of Windows: that alone is hugely profitable to them already and they have all the time of the world to extract more profits from it.

          And that is why Microsoft is worried sh*t-less about Android. Android is a completely Windows-less ecosystem that is spreading like wildfire along a very unexpected vector: mobile phones and phone carriers - which for decades used to be the most backwards technology sector of all. Android is spreading like mad in Hungary too. Usability and growth of Android puts anything that Redmond has produced in the last 30 years in shade. It's also a self-sustaining model without a licensing fee - so it's turning Microsoft's business model upside down.

          So far the best "competitive" idea Microsoft has come up with is "sue the heck out of Android, directly or by proxy". As parasitic as ever ...

          • [quote]because Microsoft turns a blind eye to piracy here they have encroached Windows to a large degree - giving other software like Linux little chance to spread[/quote]

            The same here in Sri Lanka - except that they largely turn a blind eye to piracy by corporations as well.

            The crackdown is no doubt planned for the future, but Linux has managed to become enough of a threat to keep it at bay. The " if Windows is too expensive, we will switch to Linux" tactic, expect it works well enough to get Windows for f

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by jvin248 (1147821)
            Great points! Especially for taxpayers paying for Windows Licenses! I'd add that several foreign governments are waking up and exclaiming "Hey, do we REALLY want just ONE corporation from the US to run the operating system of our WHOLE GOVERNMENT? We like those US guys and all, but isn't that a bit DANGEROUS?" And so they start putting in their own operating system built on a Linux Open Source code base they can and do go through line by line to ensure no funny code hides in there. And, by the way, tha
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cdrguru (88047)

            Android on a phone is useless without paying the relatively huge licensing fee to Google for the Google applications and access to the Google application store.

            So there is a large license fee being paid for every copy of Android. Sure, you can go without the apps and the store but then it isn't really Android, now is it?

            • Android on a phone is useless without paying the relatively huge licensing fee to Google for the Google applications and access to the Google application store.

              If that's true, then that's why the Android-based competitors to Apple's iPod touch, made by companies such as Archos, don't have Android Market and other Google applications: only the carriers can afford to subsidize the $300 premium for those. Can you cite a source for how much this fee actually amounts to per handset?

        • by zoom-ping (905112) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:48AM (#33775604)

          You mean the countries where tax evasion is a national sport

          You do realize that the USA [motherjones.com] isn't part of Eastern Europe?

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          >I personally have not seen *anyone* who paid for any version of Windows unless their company got hit with an extensive tax audit. I'm from Hungary.

          Funny, I'm from Hungary, too. I work for the BSA.

          See you Monday.

        • I personally have not seen *anyone* who paid for any version of Windows

          I haven't pirated (pardon me "backed up onto another computer") a copy of Windows in 15 years, so I'm a little fuzzy on how it's done these days.

          Presumably you need a reg key from somewhere, then you need to deal with all that Windows Genuine Advantage business every time a user runs Windows Update? Or do you run an old version without patches? Sorry to be obtuse, I'm just curious how it's done these days... Seems like a bit of

          • I use a couple of different versions. Hell, once they strip all the BS junk, XP is sleek and fast.
          • by cjb658 (1235986)

            You can pretty much install a single copy of Windows on as many computers as you want. After you try to activate it a certain number of times (3-5), you have to call Microsoft. They'll ask you how many computers you have installed it on, and if you tell them "one", they'll just read you your activation code, and you're done.

            I'm sure there is some reasonable limit. If they see you've activated the same copy of Windows 50 times, they'll know something is up.

            Not that I would know, of course. :)

        • I am from America and I can't recall, other than a few games (empire earth 1 and 2, along with the WoW series, MMORPG, not Warcraft)any programs I have bought in several years. Every since the copy of ME I had became useless when the computer it came installed on died and I was unable to install it on my new one. And why yes, after I received an update disc from gateway (previous posts explain that I am not a tech geek by any stretch of the imagination even if you are drunk)I never had a BSoD or any problem
      • The canon spelling of that word is "cannon".

      • And when they duplicate your software, they do take the original too.

        S'okay. I have an offsite backup.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      more to the point. for some reason, society keeps paying teachers to copy books into kids' brains, but lawmakers keep saying it's bad to copy stuff.
      it's somehow interesting.
      it's also scary that this story is presented as if infringing copyrights is the same as writing malware.

    • Agreed. This is similar to the german term "Raubkopie" which literally means "robbed copy". So, I always imagine that someone is holding a gun to someones head "You copy this CD/DVD!" and after that also takes the original with him.

    • The Vatican called. They want your unauthorized copy of the Canon back.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by bunratty (545641)
      If you're distributing free copies of software, you're depriving the author of the revenue he would have received if he had been able to sell those copies. This is why we have copyright laws: so that people who generate content can be fairly compensated for their efforts.
    • by Urkki (668283)

      a) Sharing duplicates is not theft of the original
      b) There are no canons on ships involved.

      Sharing duplicates is theft of intellectual property... as long as you accept the basic concept of intellectual property in current international law, anyway.

      • > Sharing duplicates is theft of intellectual property.

        No it isn't. Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights protected by statute, consisting essentially of the right to sue anyone who makes unauthorized copies of the subject work (with some notable exceptions). In order to "steal" a copyright one would have somehow deprive the owner of possession of that right. Making unauthorized copies does not deprive the owner of the copyright of possession of anything[1]. Doing so is a tort. It can be a crime

        • I give you G Carlin. "Only in America is it illegal to sell what you can give away for free." referring to sex and probably paraphrased.
    • Next month or so we will get a headline of "Thief thief Thief thief thief thief Thief thief" [wikipedia.org], and none of these words will be about actual theft of tangible property.

      [Actual thieves] compare [developing malware kits] to Kalashnikov gun manufacturing ('we make the weapon, it’s not up to us how it’s used')

      And therefore gun manufacturers are also actual serial killers.

    • Re:Yeah, right (Score:4, Informative)

      by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @11:05AM (#33776496)
      c) In the 1600 they referred to copying books and plays without permission as piracy, and back then there still were pirates cruising the waters. In 1703 Daniel Defoe said of his book that, if he had written it for the money, he would be greatly concerned at the actions of PIRATES and PARAGRAPHMEN (they loved capslock for emphasis back then, too), but since he didn't, they were welcome to their pennies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      There are no canons on ships involved.

      So? Seriously, the term piracy in the sense of unauthorised copy predates copyright! Some words have more than one meaning.
      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Of course slashbots know that there is more than one meaning to piracy which is why they can pick the one least appropriate to the topic.

      • Seriously, the term piracy in the sense of unauthorised copy predates copyright!

        And it was always intended as hyperbole.

  • by shione (666388) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:17AM (#33775372) Journal

    Know your market!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sulphur (1548251)

      Nothing astonishes people so much as common sense and plain dealing.
      Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • by zrbyte (1666979) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:22AM (#33775382)
    In the words of the famous Nelson Muntz: "HAHA!"
    • I do not understand why people present it as big news. Criminals attack other criminals much more often than one might think. Actually, it's a basis of existence of organized crime which parasitises on prostitution, illegal gambling and street drug trade. Violent gangs attack each other more often than civilians (granted, civilians prefer to do what they are told by gangs without proceeding to violent confrontation stage).

      It's only natural that criminal software is pirated more often than "normal" software.

    • What's funny is that most of the cracked zeus packages are backdoored. The skiddies get a free zeus, deploy it, get an appreciable number of bots, and then they disappear. The guy who "gave" it to them has the backdoor and gets a botnet for free.

      THAT's when the "ha ha" comes in.
  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:33AM (#33775412) Journal

    Just provide it as a service and pay per use, then the software does not need to be transferred. On the other hand - i am not sure the other criminals would trust the website. After all if they promise the are 100%malware-free, its exactly not what they want. If the promise is not given, the i would assume they have backdoor in the backdoor.

    I think a special Version of Anti-Virus software is needed.....

    • by klingens (147173)

      If they don't trust the website to create the custom bot for them, why would they trust the binary which does that they downloaded from same said website. As a malware distributor you either trust your supplier or you don't, no matter how the software reaches you.
      If you don't trust your supplier you can't use the software, no matter how it is supplied to you.

      • by drolli (522659)

        I for my part would prefer to run it locally. after all, i would run it in a virtual machine without network connection and then also test it in a machine of my own *before* letting the virus to the wild. That prevents the seller of the webservice from plainly stealing your target customizations, using it for himself and giving you a crippled version. On the other hand, if the programmer has some reputation to loose then he cant pull that off to visibly.

        But i must admit that i have no idea which methods the

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      See, what's needed is Virus as a Service (VaaS). You don't a binary. You just specify your parameters, goals, etc. on a web form, and VaaS servers (bots) set to work.

      Oh, it also incorporates the OpenStack cloud system.

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jojoba_oil (1071932) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:44AM (#33775434)
    I'm not surprised at all. This tool is for people who have no regard for others' computer hardware, so why should they care about computer software either?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But but ... all those Hollywood movies told me there's honour among thieves!

      • by Nursie (632944) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:37AM (#33775574)

        Yeah, but it's not theft, it's copyright infringement! There's no honour there...

      • by Urkki (668283)

        But but ... all those Hollywood movies told me there's honour among thieves!

        But there is. Thieves don't let fellow thieves use non-pirated software! That would be just... unethical!

  • Confusing Headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:24AM (#33775544)
    So I read the headline, then I read the text snippet. Now I'm confused. What about those actual thieves mentioned in the headline? Who are they? The developers of ZeuS? Or the ones "pirating" the bot? Who is stealing what here? Have infected computers illegally changed hands?
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:08AM (#33775658)

      Yes, the headline doesn't really match the story. They're talking about two groups of people:

      1. Actual thieves, such as the ones who used ZeuS to steal money from various bank accounts in the US and other countries and launder that money back to Eastern Europe (and were recently arrested in a worldwide roundup). Some (maybe most or all) of these people, clearly lacking moral scruples, are also pirating the ZeuS software.

      2. The authors of ZeuS, who would like to get paid for their work. (It's unclear whether these folks also use ZeuS themselves to steal money or engage in other nefarious activities, or if they're just software developers.)

      So (the obvious problem with the term "software theft" aside), the headline should read, "Software Theft a Problem with Actual Thieves, Too".

    • The thieves are the ones selling software to steal your credit card numbers, passwords, et cetera

  • Oh! I know! (Score:5, Funny)

    by selven (1556643) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:26AM (#33775556)

    Malware authors should switch to a crowd funding or donation model!

  • When it's about software, it's theft. When it's about music or movies, it's sharing, or - at most - infringement.

    Good job at building your credibility, Slashdot.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 03, 2010 @08:02AM (#33775788) Homepage Journal

      When it's about software, it's theft. When it's about music or movies, it's sharing, or - at most - infringement.

      Well, I see the copyright shills are out moderating today. Theft requires that someone be deprived of something. If copyright violation were theft, it would fall under theft in the code. It does not; we have a whole separate body of law to prevent the copying of intellectual properties specifically because it is not theft. The parent comment is not the troll, the submission's title is, and Soulskill should be embarrassed to have promoted it to the front page. It does, indeed, cost Slashdot credibility among geeks, the people who make this site worth visiting (for the discussions.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        "Theft requires that someone be deprived of something"

        They are being deprived of something. Obviously, they're being deprived of profit (not just any money, but the pirates own money) that only exists in the future of an alternate dimension where the artist/business made more money (which is potential profit). Understand, now?

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 03, 2010 @10:42AM (#33776380) Homepage Journal

          They are being deprived of something. Obviously, they're being deprived of profit (not just any money, but the pirates own money) that only exists in the future of an alternate dimension where the artist/business made more money (which is potential profit). Understand, now?

          I understand the bullshit lengths that copyright trolls will go to in order to attempt to appear to have an argument. When you have to start talking about alternate realities to explain your position, you're full of shit. It has been shown time and again that piracy does not equal lost sales; indeed, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that those who download purchase more media than those who do not. Until you can somehow show that piracy results in lost sales, which has never successfully been done, perhaps you should shut your cakehole — because the cake is a lie. And so is your bullshit about piracy being equal to theft. Lawyers understand, judges understand, lawmakers understand, you don't understand. One of these things is not like the others.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            "And so is your bullshit about piracy being equal to theft."

            It's not "bullshit" at all! We all know that you support the theft of profit that only exists in the future of an alternate dimension where the artist/business made more money (this is evidenced by the fact that you didn't run out and buy every available product in existence, which, if you did, the artists and businesses would have had more money).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cdrguru (88047)

            Look, the whole point of piracy is to destroy the revenue model that is media today. And encourage a revenue-free model for everything else as well.

            We all know we want to live in the Star Trek world where there is no more money. This is the avenue that some folks have chosen to get there. So go out and destroy some revenue today!

          • by Dhalka226 (559740)

            Until you can somehow show that piracy results in lost sales, which has never successfully been done, perhaps you should shut your cakehole

            It has been done: http://www.unc.edu/~cigar%25/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf [unc.edu]. The jist of it: The top artists actually gain sales from piracy, the bottom artists lose sales (~5000 downloads:1 lost sale), the net effect is essentially zero. Still, to the artists losing money I don't think they care much about the net effect.

            I agree with your premise, and calling it

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this the BEST way to fight this? Rather than try to track down and close the ones making money from malware by putting them in jail (expensive on the public purse), instead take the money out of making malware.

    And if it still doesn't kill all malware, then this would also prove the lie about how copyright is necessary or things won't be made any more.

  • GPL (Score:5, Funny)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:18AM (#33775684)
    If the author of Zeus published it under the GPL, then this would never have happened!
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:39AM (#33775744)
    Since we're talking about software that is already outside the law, it's reasonable to assume that the punishments or retribution that the illegal software makers can build in to "protect" their code could also be outside the bounds of acceptability. So while "legal" DRM measures can't do much beyond saying "you're being naughty, please stop" the illegal copies of illegal software could give themselves licence to wreak havoc on the machine that's attempting to run them. Just how far they'd be prepared to go (causing the hardware to catch fire? is that practical?) could be an interesting development for the uninvolved onlooker to track.
    • "So while "legal" DRM measures can't do much beyond saying "you're being naughty, please stop""

      I'd say it's more like... "you can't take that course of action with your own software because, from the very start, we've wrongly suspected you of taking actions that we don't approve of!"

    • by russotto (537200)

      So while "legal" DRM measures can't do much beyond saying "you're being naughty, please stop" the illegal copies of illegal software could give themselves licence to wreak havoc on the machine that's attempting to run them.

      True. But after a few incidents, people would just start running their pirated copies in a virtual or disposable machine. The paranoid ones would do that from the start.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Some of these nice little software products have actual IRL thugs backing them up.

      So, by pirating their software you might get a in-person meeting with someone with a lot more in common with pirates of yor. And you might get a chance to reenact a bit of history yourself by walking the plank.

      Or getting your legs broken.

      Be happy that the BSA does not employ such tactics.

      • Some of these nice little software products have actual IRL thugs backing them up.

        Yes, and so do some of the malware-creation kits.

  • by janwedekind (778872) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:46AM (#33775756) Homepage

    Today's modern criminal needs protection, just as a legitimate franchise like ... Without such protection, all the crook's best ideas would simply be stolen, the entire business would be replicated as a cheaper alternative, and the original business would be destroyed.

    Am I hearing Rupert Murdoch's voice here?

  • by kikito (971480) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @07:50AM (#33775760) Homepage

    The Zeus devs are not 'thieves' because they made Zeus.

    It's a different type of crime.

    It's like saying that a company that builds a popular and illegal anti-person mines has had its mine blueprints stolen.

    A more proper title would have been "DRM doesn't work, even for Cibercriminals".

  • I thought this would be an article on Microsoft and Apple.
  • Huh. I thought that theft implies that someone was deprived of something. In this example, no one is (well, except for profit that only exists in the future of an alternate dimension where the artist/business made more money, of course).

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