Finding warez can be tricky. Although any search engine, such as Yahoo! or Google, will turn up lists of warez websites, few of those sites will provide actual working copies of anything. The reason is simple. After taking all the time and risk of snaring a pirated copy of a major program, why would anyone blatantly advertise their law-breaking activities and offer to give away the fruits of their crime for free? To profit from their warez, many sites will force you to download spyware or display a barrage of pop-up ads that you will likely need to click through before you can (presumably) access their warez. (These pop-ups may contain nothing more than fake links which, when you click them, make money for the site owner.) Finding a warez website isn't easy, but it's still possible.
While most warez websites offer enticing lists of programs like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or Microsoft Windows, they're more often designed to lure people into seeing pornography instead. If you want to find warez, be prepared to invest hours wading through misleading sites until you find what you want. And if you do spend the time, your chances of finding a minor program, such as a CD burning utility or an antivirus program, is much greater than finding the latest version of a major program, such as Microsoft Office or Quark XPress.
The best way to find warez is to ignore the standard search engines and visit a specialized warez search engine instead, like the one shown in Figure 12-6. Rather than scan thousands of irrelevant sites for a match, a warez search engine scans a limited list of known warez sites. (Whether those warez sites have more to offer than pornography, though, is another matter.)
Astalavista (http://www.astalavista.com) is one of the more popular warez search engines, but you may also want to visit some of these other warez search engines as well:
FTP sites are much more reliable sources for warez, but again there's a catch. Most warez FTP sites (along with BBSs) are private, which means that unless you know the exact address or telephone number to access the FTP site or BBS and have the right password to get in, you won't be able to download anything. Keeping a warez FTP site or BBS secret prevents authorities from discovering the site, shutting it down, and prosecuting the people responsible. So until you can gain the confidence and trust of a private warez trading group, finding a warez FTP site or BBS will likely not be an option for most people.
If you're feeling lucky, you can use an ordinary search engine and look for the strings ftp and warez to find a list of warez FTP sites that may or may not let you in. Warez FTP sites tend to appear and disappear with distressing regularity, so you might want to try some of these websites to help you find FTP warez sites:
Warez FTP Search Engine http://www.dinkerland.com/warez.html
Warez Search Engine http://www.duthie.com/warezsearch.htm
Many people trade warez through newsgroups. By using a fake email address and anonymous surfing to mask their real IP address, software pirates can post warez for anyone to download. Just ask for a particular program, and if someone reading your message feels generous, they might be willing to send you a copy or post your desired warez in the newsgroup for everyone to download.
Although warez files can be huge, people often post them to newsgroups. Some particularly trusting souls may even provide a password and IP address or telephone number to their own warez FTP site or BBS, although like most warez trading, you'll be expected to offer something in return. Some of the more popular warez newsgroups belong to the alt.binaries hierarchy (such as alt.binaries.cd.image, alt.binaries.mac, alt.binaries.mac.cd.images, alt.cracks, alt.binaries.cd.image.games, and alt.binaries.games).
Unfortunately, some ISPs may block access to warez newsgroups for both the illegal nature of the activity and for the technical reason that heavy warez trading tends to clog a network's bandwidth. If your ISP won't allow you access to a warez newsgroup or restricts the amount you can download in a day, you may want to subscribe to a special newsgroup service. Not only will these services give you a chance to access any newsgroups you want, but they may offer a generous download limit that far exceeds the trivial download restrictions that most ISPs may impose. Supernews (http://www.supernews.com) offers a free 30-day trial, but you may also want to investigate some of these other popular newsgroup servers too:
GrabIt Newsservice http://www.shemes.com
When warez traders crack the latest program, they often post it in an IRC channel to publicize their achievement. Besides offering the latest programs, IRC channels often harbor high-profile warez like cracked copies of Microsoft Windows XP or the latest video game.
When trading files in an IRC warez channel, be especially alert for virus-infected files, Trojan horses, and denial-of-service attacks (a classic hacking attack designed to paralyze your computer by bombarding it with a barrage of legitimate requests that overwhelm your computer and essentially shut it down). Wandering unprepared into an IRC warez channel is like walking into the middle of a saloon in a bad part of town crowded with veteran gunslingers. Say or do something stupid or annoying, and you're likely to get attacked or tricked into downloading a booby-trapped file that will release a virus or Trojan horse that allows others to infiltrate your computer.
Still, IRC can be a useful resource for downloading files or finding warez sites. To find a warez channel, visit an IRC channel search engine, such as IRC Search Engine (http://irc.netsplit.de/channels) or SearchIRC (http://searchirc.com), and type warez, as shown in Figure 12-7.
Nearly every file sharing network allows you to trade any type of file, whether it's a music, video, or program file, as shown in Figure 12-8. To look for a program, just type its name or the strings cracks, serial, or warez into your favorite file sharing program. (To narrow your search to avoid irrelevant results, look for a way to tell your file sharing program that you only want to search for program files as opposed to MP3 or video files.)
Because most major programs, like Microsoft Office or Macromedia FreeHand, can be huge, pirated copies are prevalent but they are tricky for file sharers to download successfully. Downloading a massive file can take time, and if the person with the file disconnects from the file sharing network, the download fails.
File sharers who are patient and persistent can find almost any file they want, though they may need to find a crack to run the program or a list of serial numbers to activate the program. For the average person, warez trading can be cumbersome and tedious, but for a warez trader, these minor nuisances are just obstacles to overcome, which makes getting the final warez program working on their own computer all the more worthwhile.