Effortlessly getting a “free” version of your favourite software online sounds great. But as we will show you in this article, there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to manipulated applications. Quite the opposite, downloading and using “cracks”, despite being illegal, comes with a lot of security risks for you and your company. [By Romain Pradelle]
Do you still remember the good old times when standard software like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop was sold on CDs or even floppy disks? Vendors had to make sure that people don’t buy the software once and then illegally copy it to the computers of all their friends and family. Therefore, copy protection was invented. Usually, long serial numbers that had to be typed in during the installation process. This worked more or less well, as spreading pirated software was still a tedious task.
It all changed with the advent of the internet and file sharing platforms like Napster. Now, smart people started to share copyright protected music, movies, and proprietary software online for free. In the case of software applications, the pirates often altered the code in a way to completely remove the copy protection. So, when you downloaded the application, you weren’t even asked for a serial number during the installation process any more. Great, huh?
While the original Napster is long gone and now a legal Spotify clone, many shady websites persist on the web that provide “free” versions of software that nowadays often require a subscription. TeamViewer is no exception here. While we provide our software for free for private usage, we ask small business or enterprise users to buy a licence. If there is a website that offers you TeamViewer for “free” and it is not the official TeamViewer website, you should be aware because downloading software from an unofficial source can be quite dangerous.
Is Using Cracked Applications Dangerous?
When a person “cracks” software, this means that they remove or disable features that the cracker deems unwanted for his purposes. This mostly involves eliminating the copy protection or usage control features of the original version like serial numbers, hardware keys or activation codes. It is more complicated than it sounds and often proves to be impossible: Companies like TeamViewer sign their binary code to make it non-interchangeable, a measure that is exceedingly difficult to reverse by crackers. Occasionally, IT security defence measures are activated on your computer once you try to run a cracked version on it.
There is no general rule to determine the risk a specific crack poses – but you must keep in mind that by using it, you trust a person you do not know. Therefore, there is no way to know what their intentions are – do they really want to help you out from the goodness of their heart? Most likely not.
Some points to consider before you dare to download cracked software:
1. The website you download it from could be dangerous itself
Just like you do not know the person who cracked the software and their intentions, you have no idea what kind of website you are downloading the crack from.
By clicking a pop-up or any kind of link – including the one to the download – you are exposing yourself and your whole network to potential threats like adware infections or ransomware.
2. The crack could contain malware
As cracked software is provided by unknown third parties, there is no way to know what else you get with the download, apart from the promised software. This means that there is always the risk of a crack infecting your computer or network with malware. Malware includes serious threats like viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, keyloggers, or spyware.
Slowing down your computer or damaging some of your files may sound relatively harmless, but malware can also be used to gather sensitive information like passwords from your browser or take control of your webcam. The possibilities to endanger you and your network are endless. Recently, the cybersecurity company Avast detected cases of scammers using cracked software to install malware that lets them clandestinely mine cryptocurrency with your device. The crack could also contain a way for the cracker to secretly gain access to your computer.
3. There is no customer support
In case of any problems, concerns, or questions, legally acquired software allows you to call the tech support team of the vendor. With cracked versions, you naturally do not have this option to get individual and customized help from skilled experts. Sometimes online tutorials or forums may help, but for yet unknown or extraordinary issues, there is no guarantee that you will solve them this way. This could render your cracked version unusable eventually.
4. You will not get any updates
Outdated software is a security risk many people underestimate. The latest updates and patches are crucial for keeping your systems and devices safe from constantly evolving online threats. Developers are always looking to close vulnerabilities in their software in a timely manner – and those fixes are usually distributed by the latest update. Cracked versions do not have access to those important updates and leave you increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Additionally, updates often include new and improved features which you miss out on.
5. The crack might not work
You may install a cracked version of a software only to find out later that it does not work at all, crashes regularly or cannot be used in the way it is supposed to. The reason is obvious: To crack the official version, the cracker must alter the application at least slightly. This frequently affects the performance of the crack negatively, which might lead to you losing essential files or corrupt your data.
Additionally, even if the software runs smoothly at the beginning, it might malfunction or stop working altogether at a later point – maybe even once you’re in the middle of a critical project that must be finished urgently. This happens because some vendors regularly conduct registration checks and as your version is not an authorized one, they might deny you further access to the software.
Don’t Fall For Cracked Versions of TeamViewer
We realize that many of the sites on the web that offer you a TeamViewer crack look legitimate and professional. The only secure way of downloading TeamViewer, however, is from our official webpage. This is important because spotting a crack by analysing the software itself is rather tricky.
One hint could be gathered by looking at the storage space the software takes up. An interesting fact about TeamViewer cracks is that the cracker does not change the underlying code of the software, but only takes measures to bypass our licensing controls. This is done by “packaging” more script around the original code – that is why the crack takes up more storage space than the legitimate version. These additions are where crackers hide the malware that harms your devices after installation.
It should be obvious by now that using manipulated software involves a high cybersecurity risk for you and your company. TeamViewer, on the other hand, goes to great lengths to make all its software as secure as possible. Visit our Trust Center to learn more about how we protect our users, and why it is always a good idea to stick to the original.