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I want to know whether it's safe to use a pirated software if during all of the processes including (downloading, running installer, installing, using and scanning installed files) the system's antivirus/antimalware doesn't detect anything, not even after performing a full system scan?

OS is Windows 11.

I know it's not obviously "legally safe" to use pirated software, but what I'm precisely asking is it safe in terms of ransomware, data theft, getting malware etc.

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    No. No. No. And no. If you are going to install pirated software, running an AV scan is certainly a good idea... and checking any comments left about this particular distribution. The purchased version will always be the safer bet, but even then there could be malicious code. (either injected by bad guys attacking the company, or purposely put there to gather information, etc...) In the end it's about trust. Software companies have an invested interest in preserving that. Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 20:20
  • Also: Objectively malicious (as in, it intentionally causes damage without warning) code in commercial apps as an anti-piracy measure is not unknown (eg certain CAD programs that will corrupt files, eg FTDI device drivers). AV software will usually NOT flag this since it is still part of a legitimate software package. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 17:49
  • @rackandboneman in that case, isn't pirated software Better than non-pirated? because AVs don't blindly trust them by default since they aren't in whole part of a legitimate software package, when they do something malicious, be it during installation or many days after installation, their action is detected by AV, and their ability to call home, (their "legitimate" servers), are severely or most likely, completely removed as well.
    – user279925
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 5:59

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In general antivirus is not able to catch every malware, but it strives to get a good trade-off between high detection rate of malware and low false positive rate (innocent software detected as malicious). This trade-off results especially in higher detection failures for new, unusual or rare malware.

In particular this also means that it will not be able to catch every compromised pirated software.

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    Many AVs such as Kaspersky or Windows Defender (2 I personally worked with), have cloud protection or automatic sample submission. do these features help to detect compromised pirated software and new malware?
    – user279925
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 8:36
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    @elias: It helps, but it is not fool proof either. There are many ways for malware to bypass even sandbox detection, like simply doing not anything malicious for a long time. In case of pirated software one can expect the user to run the software for a long time, so it would be no problem for the malware to start activity only after some days of innocent behavior. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 18:17
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    Why does it make a difference if malicious action starts from day 1 or day 100? aren't AVs ready to detect malicious activity at any point in time with real time protection and other features such as heuristical detection?
    – user279925
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 6:05
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    @elias: Actually it is less which day but which minute. Execution in the sandboxes of the Antivirus providers (like when uploading for analysis to cloud) is limited to a few minutes since one needs to get the results fast and also limit the used resources. If nothing suspicious happens in this time, then it is treated as innocent. Simple time based triggers might be in part detect, but logic triggers (like reaching a specific level in a game) are not. Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 7:01
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Most likely a Malware risk as others say, but just to provide a new answer, it could be modified software to keep ports open to make it easier to hack your machine. Some people will accept open port requests from their firewall, without even questioning why the software is asking for access. It is not safe.

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  • Thank you, got it, so should watch for Firewall rules created as well if the installed program doesn't need to access the Internet (e.g Photoshop), or better yet, run all pirated software in a VM (like a Shielded Hyper-V VM) and non-pirated digitally signed software on the host.
    – user279925
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 6:07
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As a general rule, never use pirated software. Pirated software is often bundled with malware or backdoored and presents a massive security risk. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Anti-virus scanners can't always detect malware 100% of the time. There are so many different new strains and there are various ways of evading AV so you can't always trust an AV scan.

  2. A lot of AV scanners won't scan large files that are 1GB+ so it may just check the header of the document or checksum etc.

  3. You mentioned about doing a full system scan, if you have already installed the software then this is kind of pointless. There are various types of malware out there that will hide themselves or disable AV after install to prevent them from being removed.

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  • Also worth noting - that the malware can potentially take over the AV drivers to make more damage/have more control. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 12:46

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