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Four software pirates in China were sentenced to several years in prison and fined for running a web site that distributed, FOR FREE, 10 million copies of Windows XP over five years, according to the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

According to prosecutors, the four used a web site to distribute copies of Windows XP that were reverse engineered to remove anti-copying measures and renamed “Tomato Garden.” They made more than $400,000 selling advertising on the site.

Story here.

And here.

Since these pirated copies of Windows never got updated, they helped established a vast reservoir of computers wide open to new and old exploits. One can be sure those machines have been used to set up some of the huge botnets that prey on all of us.

So, the Windows XP copies that these guys gave away were a gift of the 21st century the way smallpox-infected blankets were a “gift” in the 18th.

Tom Kelchner