Tracking a pirated software license

When Avast Software spotted a license for its avast! Pro Antivirus software being distributed online, they decided to do a simple experiment – they didn’t take any action that would curb its spread, and simply monitored how many time the license will be used to register the software.

The license spread virally via file-sharing sites and has been detected on a number of warez sites around the world. After nearly a year and a half, 774,651 active users were tracked through their IP address, and it turns out that the software had been installed in more than 200 different countries – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Russia to Brazil, USA to the (unexpected!) Vatican City.

Avast Software is currently in the process of “converting” these users – they are actually trying to turn this experiment into a marketing opportunity. The following notice pops-up on the users’ screen:

Upon pressing the “Fix this situation” button, they are notified that they will be cut off from virus database updates, but that they have a choice of converting to avast! Free Antivirus or buying avast! Pro Antivirus.

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