ORLANDO, Fla. - If you've downloaded computer software lately you know how expensive it can be, but Local 6's Mike Holfeld found some of the best alternatives are actually free.
There are legitimate software options available right now that won't cost you a dime, but there's an underground economy on the web-that looks like the real thing but ends up stealing you blind.
Because of the sticker shock often associated with popular software, consumers may be tempted to download a pirated version.
But that's the first problem in this software saga; it's illegal
Anybody caught using counterfeit software could land in jail for five years, pay a 250,000 fine or both.
During a Skype interview Microsoft's director of US Anti-piracy told Local 6 the hidden agenda behind pirated software is your money and personal information.
"If they download pirated software, there's a 33 percent chance that they're going to inject malware into whatever it is they've downloaded. That's a huge risk. They're spending about 25 billion dollars and 1.2 billion hours a year trying to clean up the mess from those simple downloads," the director said.
But there are legal risk free software products out there.
Gimp-free photo editor program, Lightworks free video editing software, Libre office and Open office which are compatible with most Microsoft products.
Even a free anti-virus program called AVG.
There are also a wave of discounted systems for students including Office 365 that goes for roughly $80.
Here's what you need to remember: Free or not you always want to use an authorized dealer, be sure to download only from trusted sites, use current anti-virus protection and make sure your security settings are turned on.
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