The entertainment industries regularly warn the public at large that pirate sites are riddled with malware and viruses, posing a threat to unwitting visitors.
While these comments are partly made out of self-interest, they’re not entirely overblown. There are indeed plenty of scammers who upload nasty content that is added to, or disguised as, popular files.
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This is nothing new and generally speaking, these files are easy to spot and swiftly removed from well-moderated sites. However, in a recent case, this wasn’t as apparent, since it involved a well-known uploader that had a “trusted’ status on some sites.
The uploader in question is Cracksnow, who shared tens of thousands of cracked software titles in recent years. A dedicated group of followers watched these torrents and “Cracksnow” was previously listed as one of the most searched for terms on torrent sites.
In recent months, however, numerous reports claimed that these popular releases contained malware, or even ransomware, which can do serious harm to one’s computer.
Below is an example of a now-removed torrent on 1337x.to which reportedly included a copy of the GandCrab ransomware.
A few of these reports are nothing out of the ordinary. Anti-virus vendors sometimes flag cracks as malicious, without good reason, for example. Also, “rival” uploaders may try to discredit the competition with fake malware reports.
However, in the case of CracksNow, the complaints were plentiful, persistent, and not without consequence.
Earlier this month, the popular torrent site 1337x took action and banned the account. This is quite unusual since it was a “trusted” uploader, but a senior staffer informs TorrentFreak that the reports were warranted.