The illegal downloading of software videos, music, and other media involve high malware infection risk when compared to normal browsing, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report revealed the rise in use of software activation key generators as a tool to share malware.
During the January to June 2012 period (H1), the threat family Win32/Keygen, representing software activation key generators, has been spotted about five million times, representing an increase by a factor of 26 since the same period in 2010.
According to the report, about 76% of PCs that reported Keygen detections during H1 have also reported detections of other malware families.
Microsoft Malware Protection Center’s Joe Blackbird said preying on the desire to ‘get a good deal’ is confirming to be a permanently popular method for malware distributors.
"The typical situation starts with users looking for some software or media such as movies or music for free, or for a reduced price," Blackbird said.
"They surf the web looking for the file and perhaps also a crack or license key generator (Keygen) so that they don’t have to purchase it.
This is where the malware distributors step in and attempt to get between these users and the software or media that they are looking for."
The report also claims that currently, Keygen has been highest consumer threat family globally, growing above other threats that include Pornpop, Blacole, Conficker and FakePAV.