The Dangers of Getting a Pirated Version of Win7 RC: Trojans, Botnets
Article by George Norman
On 13 May 2009
Redmond-based software developer Microsoft recently made Windows 7 Release Candidate (Win7 RC) available to MSDN/TechNet subscribers, as well as the general public. But despite official download locations (and activation keys) being more than abundant on the web, some users out there preferred to get a pirated version of the operating system. Getting pirated software versions off torrent sites comes with its own dose of risks, and in the case of Win7 RC this has certainly came true.

Recent reports have it that pirated versions of Win7 RC came bundled with a nasty Trojan; while that is hardly surprising (it happened to pirated versions of Apple’s iWork 2009 earlier this year), the kicker is this: the number of users that managed to have their systems infected by the malware rose to an estimated 27,000. And it gets better: the rogue OS started building a botnet.


According to Damballa, company that specializes in real-time protection against targeted attacks that use bots or botnets to evade signature-based host. LAN or gateway security technologies, the attackers that hid the Trojan in pirated versions of Win7 RC were actively trying to set up a botnet; by the time Damballa managed to take control of the botnet and shut it down, the rate of infection grew to about 552 users per hour.

Vice President of Engineering with Damballa, Trip Cox, explained that in the time the pirated, malware infected version of Win7 RC was out there, tens of thousands of users were infected: “Since the pirated package was released on April 24th, my best guess is that this botnet probably had at least 27,000 successful installs prior to our takedown of its CnC [command and control] on May 10th. We continue to see new installs happening at a rate of about 1,600 per day with broad geographic distribution. Since our takedown, any new installs of this pirated distribution of Windows 7 RC are inaccessible by the botmaster. The old installs are accessible. The countries with the largest percentage of installs are the U.S. (10 percent), Netherlands (7 percent) and Italy (7 percent).”

If you would like to get Windows 7 Release Candidate, several download locations and activation keys are available here.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 7 RC, Release Candidate, Trojan, Malware, Zombie, Botnet, Damballa
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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