Do You Know the Penalties for Pirated Software in The US?

The temptation is pervasive. The program or app that you want can be acquired at a fraction of its legitimate cost, or maybe even for free. But whether in the form of a computer program used in your business or a game app on your phone, the sale or use of pirated software is illegal (U.S.). In fact, it is an infringement of the copyright laws in the United States and can be enforced by Interpol globally.

There is a misconception among many people that pirating these apps and programs is not hurting anyone. They believe it is a victimless crime because it impacts no one but a large corporation. This is not true. Yes, the large corporation may own that copyright, but they use the money they generate from the sale of these products to pay developers and other employees. Pirating–as opposed to purchasing–suppresses employment or might even cause job losses, and negatively impacts the economy.

Recent Pirate Busting

Penalties for Pirated SoftwareThe U.S. government, with the help of Interpol (international police organization), recently seized three websites that pedaled phony versions of Android cell applications. Although being marketed as authorized applications, those apps were fake. As with many of these pirating companies, they hosted the apps on servers located outside of the United States in hopes of covering their trail. However, they were discovered and shut down by the authorities and are now awaiting trial.

If convicted, these site owners could face fines of up to $25,000 per incident and incarceration in a federal prison.

How You Can Get Caught

There are several ways that companies learn about their software being pirated. A Florida federal defense attorney indicates these methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Spiders

Many companies will send out spiders looking for information on their products. If these spiders bring back nonconforming information, they know they have discovered pirated product.

  • Pings

Many of the OS designers have incorporated code into their designs that will ping the company if any software that is not verifiable is found on the device.

  • Research

Many software and app developers have employees dedicated to surfing the Internet each day looking for companies or individuals offering their product or services that are not authorized to do so.

  • Reports

Many companies or law enforcement agencies find out about pirated software through whistleblowers. There is a number and a website that anyone can go to anonymously and report someone who is pirating software or is using pirated software.

  • Bait

Many developers, big and small, will place advertisements on classified sites looking for particular programs or apps. When they make contact, they determine if it is pirated goods and report it to the proper authorities.

Penalties for Pirated Software in the US

Of course, there are other means by which a company can discover if you are pirating their intellectual property. However, they do not wish to disclose this information at the time because it will take away their leading edge over those who wish to steal their product.

Pirating any type of product is a crime. Just because you purchased a program, app, movie, or other form of media, does not mean that you have the authority to reproduce that media in any form, not even to share with friends even without financial gain. Software has to be licensed; you are simply buying the rights to use someone else’s property for personal use or business purposes, whatever the license specifies.

Fighting the Temptation

Pirating penalties can be enormous, going into the multi-millions of dollars in fines, or even incarceration. Before assuming such an enormous risk, look around for cheaper alternatives that may have as much functionality as you actually need. For instance, there are photo-editing programs that provide many of the more basic functions of the elite and high-priced brands, although not the sophisticated features–which you may not use anyway. You may be able to afford an application that provides what you need, making it all the more senseless to steal, which you should never even consider regardless.

As with illegal narcotics, authorities may go after drug dealers more aggressively than drug users, but both the selling and the using of unlicensed software is a criminal offense, even if you purchased a used computer that just happens to have some juicy programs on it without the installation discs or a license transfer.

An Even Worse Consequence?

Being caught by law officials might be preferable to the snare of the criminals selling counterfeit goods. Do you really want to do business with a crook? Microsoft reported earlier this year that 63% of the computers on which it identified counterfeit versions of its software also contained malware that provided thieves information from the affected computer such as credit card numbers and banking information.

How much difference can a SSD really make

Solid State Drive (SSD) is the single biggest innovation in storage and computer memory technology since the first Hard Disk Drives (HDD) were introduced by IBM way back in 1956. While the technology itself dates back to the late 50s, it wasn’t until a few years back that it became affordable enough for the consumer market. With major computer manufacturers such as Apple and Dell switching to SSD on their computers, it’s time to ask if switching over to SSD from HDD is actually worth the money and hassle.

On that note, let’s consider some advantages (and disadvantages) of SSD over HDD:

1. Technology

While Solid state and regular HDDs were developed around the same time, SSD drives were frightfully expensive for regular use. Some SSDs were employed in supercomputers in the 80s, but they were soon abandoned for their high cost.

SSDs are more expensive than HDDs because of a fundamental difference in their technology: solid state drives do not have any moving parts. All data is stored on integrated circuits (hence the name ‘solid state’). Conventional HDDs store data on rotating discs. This technological difference makes them more expensive, and simultaneously, much more efficient and reliable.

The conventional HDD is a mechanical device. Its storage disc rotates, spins and moves constantly the whole time a computer is running (hence the audible whirring sound on most comptuers). It’s a decidedly low-tech solution, which also helps make it much more affordable.

SSD, on the other hand, is a purely electronic device. Everything is stored on integrated circuit boards. You can even make a SSD drive out of the memory units used in RAM. Most SSD drives sold today utilize NAND flash memory (the same memory used in USB thumb drives). It’s a high tech approach to data storage, and the difference between the two drive formats is palpable.

Winner: SSD, which utilizes superior technology to deliver better performance.

2. Cost

Cost is the biggest deterrent to large scale uptake of SSD is its high cost. Flash memory is expensive to manufacture as it utilizes complex integrated circuits, whereas conventional HDDs use largely mechanical parts to run, cutting manufacturing costs.

Today, you can buy a 1TB HDD for under $100. A 512GB SSD drive, on the other hand, will set you back by as much as $400. HDDs are almost 1/8th the price of SSD drives, which has kept this technology out of consumer reach.

However, SSD prices are dropping at a rapid pace. Until 2009, both HDD and SSD prices per GB of storage space were dropping by 50 percent annually. That pace has accelerated in the past two years as companies have invested heavily in the technology. The price for a 120GB Intel 510 Series SSD dropped by almost $100 between May 2011 and May 2012.

SSD drives are projected to be much more affordable in a couple of years. As HDD prices bottom-out, it will be far more economically feasible to switch over to SSD.

Winner: HDD. Mechanical technology ensures lower costs.

3. Reliability

HDDs are mechanical devices. The rotating disc of the drive is in constant motion as long as the computer is running. This constant motion causes the drive to wear out over time. HDDs have a limited life span. Most HDDs will wear out in a few years of heavy use, putting your data at risk.

SSD drives, on the other hand, are all-electronic with no mechanical parts. This keeps wear and tear to a minimum. SSDs also produce less heat than HDDs, which not only keeps your computer temperature lower, but also helps reduce heat related wear.

On average, a SSD drive can be expected to last up to 20 years. It is especially appropriate for highly sensitive data that may be put at risk in a HDD.

Winner: SSD. Low wear and tear give it phenomenal reliability over several years.

4. Performance

This is where SSD really shines. The performance of the HDD is limited by the spin of the rotating disc. The drive needs to rotate to specific spots on the disc to read data. Even at the relatively high speed of 7200 RPM (standard speed for most drives on the market), the performance is woefully inadequate compared with SSD drives. Data transfer rate for HDDs is approximately between 80-100MB/second, while that for SSD is up to 500MB/second.

Tests indicate that Windows 7 loads up almost twice as fast on a SSD PC than a HDD PC. This difference in performance is visible across most resource intensive software such as Photoshop, games, etc.

Performance reliant industries such as cloud storage and web hosting have also turned to SSDs to provide a better, faster user experience. Low access time and faster speeds improve I/O time and are ideal for servers that see heavy use. For instance, cloud hosting provider ElasticHosts recently added SSDs to its high performance servers to improve heavy database performance. The net result is a noticeable reduction in access time and database speed.

Winner: SSD, with speeds twice as fast as a regular hard drive.

Conclusion

SSD drives are reliable, fast and long-lasting. Many computers utilize SSD drive as the primary storage device for accessing essential computer files, with an additional HDD drive for storing documents, files, movies and music. This arrangement gives the user the best of both worlds: cheap storage through HDD, speed and reliability for key files through SSD, at an affordable price point.

Latest News Regarding Antivirus Companies

First of All; What Is Antivirus

Antivirus software is a type of program aimed at detecting and removing malicious programs from computers. These programs are offered by different companies to keep computer user safe from various types of malicious software and from other threats, like cybercriminals.

There are many brands selling their software, and users have a wide range to choose from, which can often be a tough choice. Knowing the current events in the world of antivirus products can make the choice a bit easier. The following are just a few current antivirus news items that may help you to be better informed:

Symantec problems with Norton Deals

It is quite unbelievable that one of the most popular antivirus brands is having a hard time in security vulnerability. Symantec recently found out that their decomposer engine has problems that have also spread flaws to multiple other products including the very popular Microsoft Exchange. This is because of the new Norton security coupon codes the company distributed.

According to sources, the company processed a RAR file, which effectively penetrated the system. Despite this unfortunate event, they were quick in issuing a statement to system administrators and others as to what the issue was. They also offered a guide for others regarding what should be done to deal with this problem, and this is in addition to upgrading security software.

Antivirus programs keep systems safe, but they also do have flaws that can contribute to various sorts of system failures. Not only should users keep their antivirus software updated and current, but they should be alert for any anomalies on their system that their software either missed or even caused.

McAfee’s survey on teen Internet use

McAfee, one of the top antivirus program companies also, has released a survey on teen internet use. Studies have shown that more and more teenagers are using the internet for what parents, teachers, and other authorities would consider all the wrong reasons. This may not be surprising to many, but the amount of misuse and ingenuity to do so may surprise.

While their parents believe what their children tell them about internet usage, it seems that many have been lied to. It has been discovered that while most parents monitor their children’s activities online, 70% of the teenagers have discovered ways to avoid the monitoring. McAfee interviewed teenagers online on the topic of internet usage and the results indicated that a lot more teenagers are accessing violent, nude, and sexual content online without their parents’ knowledge than had previously been thought. Not only is this unsettling to parents, but it seems to indicate that their computers and their children may be facing a greater security risk than previously thought.

Apple almost admits it needs antivirus for Macs

Apple has previously touted their popular and pricy Mac computers as being invulnerable from viruses. Many advertising campaigns have been built up around this virus-free rumor, leading many Mac owners to avoid the purchase of antivirus, antimalware, or any other type of security software.

It seems that Apple is slowly changing its tune as more and more malware aimed at Macs has been coming out. Not necessarily “viruses,” these malicious programs still can cause plenty of damage and a lot of headaches for Mac users, especially if they had previously passed on antivirus protection thanks to the effectiveness of old advertising.

Apple has been altering their web pages and other materials to stop bragging that the Mac is free from “PC Viruses” – a still true, yet very misleading claim. Macs certainly cannot get a virus written to affect Windows-based PCS, but there is still plenty of Malware around that can infect Macs. Sophos, a security firm, conducted a study that found approximately one Mac in every 36 had malware on it designed for Mac OS X. Certainly some had PC viruses on them as well, but these PC threats are unable to run on a Mac.

It seems that this simple step is a big one toward making Mac users safer. Hopefully this will help to begin to undo many years of misleading claims in marketing materials and advertising that has created an almost dangerous climate of misinformation for Mac users. As the amount of Mac owners beginning to buy antivirus protection for their Macs continues to rise, it seems that there truly is hope.

 

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Thunderstrike 2: A New Headache for Apple

Apple has announced that the Thunderstrike 2 bug has been partly patched together in the OS X 10.10.4, which translates that this particular version of the bug should not at all be of immediate concern to fully updated Mac users. For confirmation, Trammell Hudson was approached for this matter.

Hudson has decided to post further details on the Thunderstrike 2 as well as Apple’s status on the fixes. He said that because of the OS X 10.10.4, Mac don’t happen to be trivially vulnerable to the bug. Though, he has listed multiple vulnerabilities that still need to be fixed by Apple. The company is well-informed of the said problems.

Roots of the Story

Security Engineer Trammell Hudson, earlier this year, had developed a proof-of-concept which he showed off. He called this the Thunderstrike. It was a malware incapable of hitching a ride onto Thunderbolt integrated accessories. Its main purpose was to infect any Mac device via cable based connections. Once a Mac is infected, the malware could be passed on to virtually any accessory connected to the device which will in turn infect other computers. It failed, so the new malware version was created.

Dubbed as the “Thunderstrike 2,” this new proof-of-concept attack continues to spread mainly through Thunderbolt-infected accessories. Where the original malware version flunked, it needed a malicious user to gain physical access to one’s personal computer to work. This was coined as the “evil maid” approach, or even an “evil butler” for that matter. The latter version, it could spread remotely and it is capable of being delivered through malicious websites and phishing e-mails. Once the user has unknowingly downloaded the new and highly revolutionized malware, it can infect any connected accessory that uses Option ROM, which is Apple’s accessory for Thunderbolt-to-gigabit-Ethernet connections.

Thunderstrike 2What dangers this firmware-level malware imposes is that it is seemingly impossible to detect with most virus scanners along with anti-malware software products are more focused on desk files and RAM. The harder part would be tracking back the source since the malware activity itself remains invisible. More disturbingly, it’s a tough bug to remove. Thunderstrike cannot be used to be remove Thunderstrike given that the new malware patches the original firmware’s security hole.

The whole Thunderstrike issue is synonymous to the previous BadUSB proof-of-concept pointed towards attacking Mac hardware by reprogramming USB devices. But this time, it’s a different story. Thunderstrike 2 has transformed into a worm that is already signifying greater potential damages at its early stages. This causes a total frustration to the faithful users of Apple, questioning its security infrastructure that has proven ten-folds more durable than any Windows platform.

What Does Norton 360 Multi Device Offer

Symantec has created lots of security oriented software, starting from the Norton Antivirus to Internet Security and later to the Norton 360 and Norton 360 Premier. Recently the company introduced the Norton 360 Multi-Device, responding to the developing need of the users who now want to protect more devices than just one computer. For a complete review and specifications click here.

How Many Devices Do You and Your Family Own

If I asked you how many computers, tablets and phones you own you would probably come up with more than 3; your desktop PC, a laptop, maybe a tablet and of course your smartphone. If we added the rest of your family’s devices or your work computer then the number gets really big. People now carry lots of devices which share one thing in common: that they are almost constantly online and therefore ought to be protected. Protection means more than just antivirus. It means protecting the files and folders, contacts and information that you have on these devices so that in case of a malfunction or files get corrupted you can get those restored. You want to be able to find these mobile devices cause we often get misplaced, lost or stolen and you want to know where they are and be able to get them back.

So that’s the kind of protection that Norton 360 Multi Device brings to all of these types of devices. It’s a simple straight forward solution that protects in our new world of multiple devices.

Features of Norton 360 Multi-Device

We start out from Norton 360 Premier which is the Symantec’s best security solution for PCs. It includes 25Gb of online storage space. Not only do you get that great protection from Norton, but you get Tune-up capabilities and keep that PC running smoothly and the 25Gigs of online backup space which is synced with your hard disk’s files whenever there’s a change, so that if you ever have a problem with your device you get that data back from the cloud.

The next thing that’s included in the software is the Norton Internet Security for Mac. Not only does this protection get viruses but Mac users need protection when they go out and shop or buy online.

Finally, we have security for mobile devices; whether it is Android, Apple products like iPhone or iPad, you want to make sure that if you had a problem with them – maybe they get misplaced – you could get those back, and norton internet security does all that.

So, instead of looking for and buying different software to install and protect all your different devices, you can buy one solution. You get 5 licenses which you can mix and match with any of those devices and you get a great way to manage that with Norton’s web consult. You can go out on that web, see the device’s status, what kind of protection is on them. If you decided to upgrade from Mac to a PC you can just disable the protection on the Mac, transfer it onto the PC and you are all set, up and running.

What Else Does Symantec Offer

At the same time Norton brings all the latest protection, not just empty virus definitions but all new features and functionality and a whole new product if needed as part of your subscription. Symantec also has issued a Norton coupon code which brings a discount of 20% on your subscription.

If there are several smartphones in your family, e.g. an iPhone, Android or Symbian, a tablet, perhaps a couple of laptops and desktops, you can solve the internet security and backup issues once and for all with just one purchase. The price is just $69.99 for a year or $134.99 for two.