Why it’s best to purchase an antivirus directly from the developer

When you want to save money by buying an antivirus from untrusted online sellers, you ultimately risk your money and might land in trouble afterwards.

Wanting to save your money when buying things is normal, yet sometimes this might impose a threat to you. Although our ancestors tried to drive out this sinful attitude, even making up dozens of proverbial sayings like “a cheapskate pays twice”, we still tend to believe that distributors can be selfless and that they are willing to give away goods for free out of the goodness of their hearts. Of course there are instances when saving a lot is possible without any consequences, but most of the time we look for deals, which end up resulting in loss and problems. This is applicable not only to iPhones and other luxury goods, but to antiviruses as well.

Numerous online offerings for Kaspersky products, including those on bidding platforms, e-commerce and advertisement sites, serve as good examples. Hundreds of sellers offer boxed Kaspersky Internet Security and other security solutions for prices up to 1.5 to 10 times lower than our normal price. In such cases, one cannot help but buy several licenses for the price of one. However, too low a price is often the first sign that the seller is a fraud.

Such low prices should make you think about the seller's integrity.

Such low prices should make you think about the seller’s integrity.

Sadly, the overwhelming majority of such offers are fraudulent or, at times, a legitimate yet invalid license. In the first case, you may just lose some money, in the second, you would need to deal not only with the loss of funds but also with problems that you will later have to devote your undivided attention (and ultimately, more money) to.

So, what drawbacks would a generous online offer conceal, and what problems might this mean for a buyer?

Non-existent/blocked/invalid license code

A made-up code is yours – for only $4!

A made-up code is yours – for only $4!

Anyone can produce a combination of letters and numbers that look like a software code, as well as post an offer for a blocked, invalid or out-of-date code. A buyer is essentially unable to check the validity of the code prior to the purchase. This is something that fraudsters have constantly been using when trading invalid codes in ‘3-for-1’ bundles. Having purchased such a code, a user is likely to see a “the code you entered is not valid” message.

Multi-user license

There is also another scenario: a culprit posts an offer for a valid license code for, say, three users, but sends the code to several buyers simultaneously. Then it is like Russian roulette: someone is faster than the others and activates the code, and the losers will have to see the message “this code has already been activated”.

Pirated license

A cracked code is a time bomb: a pirated code might be accepted by the software but will surely be banned afterwards by an anti-pirate system, disabling regular updates of antivirus databases and eventually exposing your machine to newer samples of malware.

A license with false features

It is well known that one license can be activated on several devices, depending on the type. This tactic is actively used by fraudulent sellers: they will sell a license for 2 machines as a product that is for 5 machines, which is, predictably, more expensive. By the time the buyer has activated the code on all devices and discovers the ugly truth, the sellers are nowhere to be found.

License valid for another region

One of the most unpleasant options is the purchase of a license restricted to a certain region. Licenses for different regions vary in price but the code can be activated only in the corresponding region. So a code for a license specifically designated for South Africa cannot be activated in any other country.

When purchasing such a license, it is quite difficult to notice that the license is intended for use within Italy only.

When purchasing such a license, it is quite difficult to notice that the license is intended for use within Italy only.

It is such an unfortunate coincidence: the seller did not want to lie to anyone, yet the buyer ends up with a valid, legitimate code s/he cannot use.

All of these scenarios have something in common: the users who have invalid, fraudulent or ‘grey’ codes are not entitled to receive any help from Kaspersky Lab’s technical support. Moreover, they are unlikely to be able to have the money returned that they spent. There have been cases where a victim has been able to prove the fraud and have their money reimbursed; yet the process would eat up a lot of time and energy.

In order to save yourself and your money from unnecessary risk, purchase activation codes only at www.kaspersky.com, from trusted merchants and authorized online distributors. Just accept the simple truth: if something is too good to be true, then it is probably not true.

Incomplete packaging

If you decide to purchase a security solution from a third-party seller — on eBay, for example — you might end up paying a bit less for a lot less. What’s shown on the site is always a traditional software box, but it’s been years since anyone bought software online and waited for a box to come in the mail. Even when you buy directly from Kaspersky Lab’s website or our official partners, you get an activation code and download the software.

When you buy from a third party, they’ll still show product box photos, whether the seller is legitimate or a scammer. In the best-case scenario, you’ll get a good activation code and download link. Or you might get an empty box.

Why would you care about incomplete packaging if the AV solution seems to work? Well, it’s true that the box doesn’t matter. But when you buy a security solution, you also get the right to receive customer support. If, when you install the software you downloaded, you face activation or licensing issues, the first thing Kaspersky Lab Technical support will ask for is information from the packaging — that’s your proof of (legitimate) purchase. Without that information, the support engineer will not be able to help you. In fact, any tech support will require a legitimate product code.

Of course, if you bought legitimate software, you don’t need a box to prove it: You can provide the order number from your e-mail receipt, which contains the purchase invoice and the e-mail address you used for the product purchase.

If, despite our recommendations, you still think purchasing the product from a third-party seller is worth the risk, please request all the data you’ll need, including the e-mail address they used for the purchase and the original invoice they received.