Pirated Joomla Extensions and Templates and how it affects you.
Piracy, or warez is sure an easy way to get hold of digital software nowadays. I remember our bittersweet surprise soon after the release of JomSocial back in December 2008, somewhere around Christmas when we discovered that our baby, JomSocial 1.0.21 was already available on the net.
JomSocial Nulled 2.8.0
In a way, it did help people to get to know JomSocial and other extensions. Piracy allow users to digest the quality of the extensions before purchasing it, or for developers to get familiar with our structure (and boy have I said that our JomSocial templates are well commented for easy modifications?), or for other Joomla developers to integrate with JomSocial without having to subscribe or contact us directly. To a certain extent, piracy does work wonders.
Soon, coupled with a meteoric rise of Joomla 1.5, I began to notice something peculiar. There were groups claiming that they have released JomSocial 'nulled' / 'cracked' / 'removed site checking' and it is now safe to install JomSocial without us blocking its features & functionality. We had a good laugh, as JomSocial is a GNU/GPL software. It means there is no such 'nulling' / 'cracking' required in order for you to use JomSocial at its fullest. Our source code is readily available, well commented, and not encrypted at all. As such, there is no point of having to null or crack JomSocial.
We figured, well perhaps these groups were merely chasing popularity and we couldnt be bothered much.
Piracy will cost you.
Then I notice something more sinister. Instead of actually removing codes to emmm 'null' JomSocial, some devillish groups are actually adding more codes into the core. This all started when I begin to see issues with blank cWindow popups, Ajax requests failures, and other unexplained codes in our output.
I have been debugging Joomla sites since Mambo days (2006), and I have seen countless sites fell victim to numerous exploits. This is one of the easiest ways for irresponsible entities to manipulate your site into whatever clever use they can think of.
In Joomla, pirated extensions and templates are freely available on the net and unsuspecting users would simply download and install these rogue extensions without a second thought.
At the moment of writing, I am actually debugging a site with a very nice looking Yootheme template that seems to have something foreign in its output. My inspection shows that it has a hidden div next to the footer that links to some funny Russian sites and it can be traced to an altered file in Yootheme's Warp library. The same encryption can be found in numerous other templates available for free on the net. And it will take a keen eye and experience to locate and remove such a code.
If you are using pirated templates and extensions, take note. Piracy will cost you.