Masquerading malware as key generators for popular games is a well-known malware-delivery tactic, but it’s not often that you see malicious keygens for other types of software.
Nevertheless, it happens occasionally. Trend Micro researchers warn that in the last few weeks, malware peddlers have been targeting professionals working in a variety of industries with this approach.
They have spotted fake generators for specialised (and expensive) engineering (Aveva) and automotive repair (AllData) software, multimedia tools (Bigasoft), benchmarking software (Geekbench), software for chemists and biologists (CambridgeSoft), computing software (Wolfram Mathematica) and, yes, some games.
Unfortunately, the offered executables are not what they seem. Once installed, they pave the way for other malicious software to be installed on the compromised computer, and lately that software is often a fake AV variant.
“Fake antivirus software has declined significantly from its heyday several years ago (in part due to crackdowns on their payment systems),” the researchers pointed out. “Since then, it has been overshadowed by first police ransomware and then in more recent months by CryptoLocker.”