Telltale Signs of Illegal Software

Hello Kaspersky Lab blog readers! We’re always reminding you how important it is to buy licensed products. However, you should remember that not all software sold in stores or online

Hello Kaspersky Lab blog readers! We’re always reminding you how important it is to buy licensed products. However, you should remember that not all software sold in stores or online is official. There are cases where this software turns out to be pirated copy, even if they look authentic at first glance. This problem is especially important when you deal with seasonal sales and clearances.

Today I am going to explain how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. As soon as you try to activate a Kaspersky product with a pirated code, the software will inform you it is invalid.

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Attempts to request a refund from pirates are never successful. That is why it is better to take a closer look at the box before you buy it.  In this article you will find a few tips on how to distinguish a genuine product from counterfeit software. All the pictures in this post are real examples of pirated copies of Kaspersky Lab products. The codes you see on the pictures are already blocked.

The design of cards and boxes can differ depending on the region, but some general components remain the same. The most evident example is the use of grammatical errors.  All text on original cards and boxes is written correctly.

First and foremost, the only correct spelling of the company name is “Kaspersky Lab”.


All words in the name of the product start with capital letters:


As well as the CEO’s last name:


As you can see in these pictures, pirates rarely care about the correct spelling of the company name. It is one of the most evident signs of a pirated product.

Errors can vary, though. Here you can see some grammatical issues:


Missed spacebars,


letters, and even words:


Sometimes you can get a whole range of mistakes and typos on one package:


When the pirates distribute their goods in more than one region, you can encounter the unfilled regional restrictions template on the box, like the one in the picture:


Here is a more advanced variant:


Well, you have found a box that does not cause any suspicion and looks perfectly normal on the outside. Still, we recommend opening it and checking the contents in the sales clerk’s presence. What should you expect to find inside? The original package includes the document (a card or a Quick Start Guide) with the activation code, End User License Agreement and the installer. The clerk must provide you with a receipt that contains the name of the purchased product and the date of purchase. Otherwise the product is most likely a pirated copy.

But even if all previous tests went smoothly, you still can find some unusual items in the box. The activation code can be used only for one product. What we see here is the code for two products:


The card should have a rectangular form and the code should be covered with a scratch-off layer:


The code consists of 20 characters,


and is divided into four 5-character groups:


This card contains some additional contact information and instructions, but these are not the only oddities. Look at the city in the address.

Finally, the cover should be scratched off with a hard object, not torn off:


And it should correspond to the height of the characters in the code:


As you can see, the easiest way to detect a pirated copy is to pay attention to the package and the text on it. Do not rush to buy a cheap product, as you then might have to pay twice: the company bears no responsibility to exchange or refund in the case of a pirated copy.

Your safest bet is to buy licenses from our authorized partners. On the official website, you will find the list of Kaspersky Lab partners in your region:

Enjoy your genuine Kaspersky Lab software!