Flight simulator software maker uses malware in controversial effort to counter piracy

Makers of games and other software developers often struggle with the issue or piracy and one piece of flight simulator software deployed a controversial technique to counter piracy - infecting pirates with malware designed to steal their Chrome passwords.

''The inclusion of a malware, in the form of a password dumper, in a trusted installer for the sake of combating piracy is absolute insanity,'' Andrew Mabbitt, founder of cybersecurity company Fidus Information Security and who originally flagged the issue to Motherboard.

FSLabs makes add-ons for the highly popular Microsoft Flight Simulator, according to the company's website. The simulator can be bought by budding digital pilots from around $80 and up.

A user of the /r/flightsim subreddit noticed something amiss about FSLabs' installer for the A320X add-on, a particular model of aircraft. FSLabs' software also included a file called ''text.exe,'' which is basically a password stealer, according to the user's post.

According to Mabbitt the file is included in FSLabs' installer. He also pointed to a scan of the file on malware search engine VirusTotal, which showed that several anti-virus products had marked the file as malicious.

''When run, the program extracts all saved usernames and passwords from the Chrome browser and appears to send them to FSLabs. This is by far one of the most extreme, and bizarre, methods of Digital Rights Management (DRM) we've ever seen,'' he added.

Meanwhile, founder and owner of FSLabs, Lefteris Kalamaras took to the flight simulator's forums on Saturday, and did not deny bundling a piece of malware with his product.

''First of all - there are no tools used to reveal any sensitive information of any customer who has legitimately purchased our products. We all realize that you put a lot of trust in our products and this would be contrary to what we believe,'' he wrote.