Keygen malware: what it is, how it works, and how to remove it

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
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Pirated versions of software often come accompanied by security threats. Most of the time, they require secondary applications to run or register. One of those is Keygen, a simple application that can bring a bag full of malware or spyware right at your front door.

So, our intention today is to explain what Keygen.exe is, how it can affect you and your PC, and how to deal with it. If you’re concerned about the negative effects, look below for detailed explanation.

What is Keygen malware and how to remove it

What it is and how it works

Firstly, let’s start with what exactly Keygen.exe is. Keygen.exe or Key Generator is a hack tool, but not a malware per se. It mostly comes with the pirated software and its main use is to create license keys so users can illegally register that software. Thus, users themselves are obtaining it deliberately.

Even though Keygen.exe isn’t a malware by itself, it’s still illegal for obvious reasons and it can be carrying Troyan viruses or data-stealing keyloggers that will wreak havoc on your PC. Because of that, most antivirus solutions will recognize it as a threat and remove it from your system.

In comparison to cracks, Keygen doesn’t modify any parts of the program. It just, with modification of certain security algorithms, enables any random license key to work. After you’re prompted to insert license key during the installation, Key Generator (Keygen.exe) will generate the key so you can manually insert it. With the advancements in the software protection, Keygen hack tools are barely used nowadays, but nonetheless, still present within pirating community. Particularly, with older programs that support this method of authorization.

As we already stated, even though Keygen.exe isn’t malware, in more than 50% of detections, it carries some kind of malicious software. That’s a risk certain users are willing to take, but we don’t advise you to do that. Moreover, the pirated software, besides the fact it’s illegal, can be an issue on its own. It’s questionable what are you trading for free pirated software because we sincerely doubt in altruistic intentions of all hackers or crackers that provide it.

How to remove Keygen

Windows Defender and the majority of third-party tools will easily deal with Keygen.exe. There’s even a theory that, even though there’s no malicious software in Keygen, antiviruses are still prone to place it into quarantine. That’s probably true, but who can blame the developers? Let’s call it a solidarity between software developing companies.

If you’re keen to get rid of Keygen and other related files, you can do it by deleting it manually. Just completely delete downloaded files and that should be it. On the other hand, there’s a chance that your system is already infected, so a deep scan is recommended.

Follow instructions below to perform a deep scan with Windows Defender in Windows 10:

  1. Open Windows Defender from the taskbar’s notification area.
  2. Select Virus & threat protection.
  3. Click on the Scan Offline button.
  4. The PC will restart so save everything before you move on.
  5. Click Scan.

That should do it. We hope this was a helpful read.

What’s your experience with Keygen.exe and similar hack tools? What’s your stance on pirating software?

Feel free to tell us in the comments section below.