A single licence for Avast security software has been used by 774,651 people after it went viral on a file-sharing site, according to the company.
Avast noticed that a license for its paid-for security software, sold to a 14-user firm in Arizona, was being distributed online. Rather than shut down the piracy, the company decided to see how far the software would spread. The Avast Pro licence showed up on file-sharing sites, and a year and a half later it had topped three-quarters of a million active users.
"We found our licence code at a number of warez sites around the globe," said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast Software. "There is a paradox in computer users looking for 'free' antivirus programs at locations with a known reputation for spreading malware."