Security firm Avast revealed a single license for the company's security software has been used a whopping 774,651 times. A year and a half ago Avast discovered that a license sold to a 14-user firm in Arizona was being distributed online on filesharing websites. Instead of banning the license, the company decided to keep track of it to learn how far the software would spread.
The license is currently being used by nearly three-quarters of a million active users but rather than punishing these pirates Avast will turn it into a marketing opportunity by popping up a notice on machines with the pirated license to offer a link to the free or paid-for versions.
“We found our licence code at a number of warez sites around the globe,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast Software. “There is a paradox in computer users looking for ‘free’ antivirus programs at locations with a known reputation for spreading malware.”
The licence is being used in 200 countries – and has even been installed on two computers in the Vatican City, Avast added.
“It was quite interesting how fast it went, but at some time the party has to end,” Avast spokesman Lyle Frink told PC Pro.