AVG Software Pirates, Friend or Foe?

December 29, 2010

Recently AVG Technologies brought myself and a few other AVG Community VIPs to Prague, Czech Republic, where we had breakfast with the senior executives, took a tour of the city, ate delicious traditional Czech dishes, and attended a concert hosted by AVG.

During the breakfast with the senior executives at AVG, my friend and fellow Community VIP Kyle Moore asked a great question about how AVG was dealing with software piracy. It is surprisingly common for people who are pirating AVG’s software to come and brag about it on the AVG Facebook Page, or try to share cracked licenses on the page, so those of us who are involved in helping the community have all seen it quite often. Tony Anscombe, Ambassador of the Free Product Range and Dusan Zabrodsky, Senior Vice President of Operations explained to us that AVG is still gaining value from everyone who uses the software, because the majority of people who use AVG software automatically report data back to AVG about infections they encounter, allowing AVG to have more inclusive virus definitions for all new infections. So the more people who use AVG, legally or not, the better AVG will get.

Also, they pointed out that people who are likely to pirate their AV software and use software cracks typically engage in more dangerous activities online, encountering more malware because of their involvement with cracked software, and any other dangerous activities they may be a party to. This in turn provides AVG with more valuable information than the average user practicing safe browsing habits could provide, because the average user would not encounter as much malware as the typical software pirate. So while it’s not obvious to someone on the outside looking in, AVG actually benefits quite a lot from the people who pirate their software.

As with many of my posts, this one was also inspired by my interactions with someone in the AVG Community. Recently a community member made an appeal to AVG to try harder to stop the pirating of their software. It seems that AVG is content with their current methods though, as am I. I’ll elaborate with this analogy to show you what I mean.

As I mentioned, people who use software cracks are at a greater risk for contracting malware. While it’s true that cracks can get you free software, they will just as often get you infected with malware. So the trade off doesn’t really appeal to most people. Think of it like this, while it’s true that robbing a bank will net you a whole lot more cash much quicker than working a job everyday like the rest of us, it’s also a very dangerous crime that could get you killed and will make you a wanted man. Though people have been robbing banks for quite a while, we still see the majority working at their jobs to make an honest living.

While we may see people pirating AVG’s software, the majority will continue to purchase their software legitimately, so they don’t have to worry about getting infected and so they have the benefit of free technical support. As for the minority who are pirating the software, in a rare instance the criminals are actually helping their victims more so than hurting them, the information on new threats these software pirates provide may be worth more to AVG than the $54.99 that they ripped AVG off for ever could be. It’s always interesting to see things from a different prospective.

Thank You For Reading,
Zachary Chastain
AVG Community VIP