Wibu-Systems Blog

If Fords Were Software

Posted by John Browne on Mar 3, 2011 6:50:00 AM

Imagine if every Ford car used the same physical key. It would be pretty easy to steal Fords. If you had a Ford key, you could drive off in any Ford you found. While this sounds crazy it’s not unheard of: some industrial equipment shares keys for convenience. For example, I happened to learn recently that all Kubota L series tractors use the exact same key. Since a would-be criminal stealing one of those tractors could only make his getaway at the blinding speed of about 12 mph, theft concerns are less of an issue.

Duplicate keys would be an issue for consumers, but less so for manufacturers. Now imagine anyone who wanted a new Ford could duplicate the exact car their neighbor had, for free! Imagine a dealership selling those bogus cars, rather than the “real” ones.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet this is exactly what the software industry has been facing since the beginning of the PC era. PC software was easy to copy and distribute, compared to mainframe software which usually required some direct customer support, making illegal copying harder to go undetected.

I remember clearly some of the earliest attempts to prevent illegal software piracy—very early versions required the user to insert the original floppy disk to run the software. If I remember correctly, there was a game that required you to use colored glasses to see hidden codes in the user manual. And I remember the absolute frustration when a perfectly legal copy of a product wouldn’t run because of a glitch in the anti-piracy paradigm.

In my opinion the new CodeMeter CmStick/C dongle eliminates the last objections to preventing piracy. It’s so tiny you can leave it connected to a laptop and never worry about it sticking out too far or getting damaged. You would only need one because it can store licenses from hundreds of ISVs. And it provides uncrackable levels of security.

What’s not to like?

Topics: dongles, CodeMeter, software copy protection, Anti-piracy, software piracy, Copy Protection

Venture capital getting scarce; what to do?

Posted by John Browne on Jan 13, 2011 8:29:00 AM

Dow Jones reported yesterday that funding for venture funds hit a seven-year low in 2010, as more and more limited partners (LPs), scared by the poor returns over the last 10 years, looked elsewhere for their portfolios.

In the 90's the fad was to build your tech company with OPM (other people's money) and then cash out. VCs were practically throwing term sheets wrapped around a rock through corporate windows to get deal flow.

Those days are gone, probably forever. ISVs that are looking to grow their companies will have to find other sources of capital instead of spending their days wooing the ever-shrinking pool of venture capitalists.

What has this got to do with software protection and licensing? Consider that in 2009 (according to the BSA) over $50B of stolen piracy went into use. For the sake of argument, assume that half of that would never have been purchased legitimately. That still leaves $25,000,000,000 of lost revenue to ISVs. Try to get a check THAT big from your friendly neighborhood VC.

How can you get some of that? Simple:

  1. Introduce your product to high-risk foreign markets protected by a CodeMeter CmStick. This gives you complete security against piracy and opens up markets maybe you were reluctant to enter because of high piracy rates. China has lots of money, but also has high piracy rates. Entering the Chinese market with a CmStick-protected opens up new revenue streams without interfering with your ability to sleep at night.
  2. Protect your products that are getting stolen now with a CodeMeter CmStick. For low-risk markets, use CodeMeterAct for software-based activations. This gives you a single method to license and protect your products with strong, scalable security against piracy.

Both of these methods will increase revenue due to lower piracy rates and simplified license management. Use the additional money for reinvestment into your company to grow without the dilution of outside investment.

For more information, request a free CodeMeter evaluation kit today!

Topics: dongles, CodeMeter, Anti-piracy, software piracy, Evangelism

What is software piracy?

Posted by John Browne on Jan 12, 2011 4:45:00 AM

Software piracy is the unauthorized duplication of programs such as operating systems, applications, and utilities. In 2009, 43% of all software globally was pirated. In China alone over $7 billion worth of software was stolen in 2009.

Piracy is often the result of organized criminal enterprises who crack copy-protection schemes and then manufacture counterfeit copies of commercial software. It can be very difficult for end-users to tell counterfeit software from legitimate copies.

Pirated software (also known as “cracked” software) can contain malware such as Trojan horses, bots, and keyboard loggers. The widespread use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing such as bit torrent sites has rapidly increased the distribution and availability of pirated software. Counterfeit software is sold via online auction sites, often to end users who are unaware that they are purchasing illegal and potential dangerous software.

Software developers work diligently to prevent their software from illegal piracy. Systems such as code obfuscation or machine binding are popular but easily cracked by sophisticated pirates.

The only truly fool-proof method to prevent illegal piracy is through the same method that the US Government uses to protect its most valuable secrets: encryption. By encrypting the application program and its data, piracy can be prevented. CodeMeter uses AES 128-bit encryption to protect programs from piracy. A brute-force crack of CodeMeter’s encryption would require the pirate to find the one key that works in the approximately 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (3.4 x 10^38) possibilities. CodeMeter’s strongest security comes when the private key data is stored in the CmStick—a Smart Card based dongle that is effectively uncrackable.

How do we know it's uncrackable? Because Wibu-Systems is the only software-protection company bold enough to offer crackers a large cash ($40,000) prize if they could crack CodeMeter. And, although many have tried, none has succeeded. Nevertheless, we know that the battle with crackers requires constant vigilance, which is why we continually updates our protection methods as we find new exploits that crackers attempt to use.

Check out CodeMeter if you are looking for a great software anti-piracy solution or simply contact us.

Topics: dongles, CodeMeter, software copy protection, Anti-piracy, software piracy, Copy Protection, FAQ, mythbustin'

Chinese fail to crack CodeMeter

Posted by John Browne on Nov 30, 2010 10:53:00 AM

A lot of software publishers I've talked to are afraid to ship their software to China for fear of illegal copying. Recently we tested our anti-piracy tools by hosting our first ever Chinese-only cracking contest. If the Chinese are so great at cracking software protection could they crack CodeMeter? I'll get to the outcome in a minute.

This isn't the first time CodeMeter has faced down crackers. Over the years Wibu-Systems has offered cash prizes for anyone who could crack our security. The usual approach is: we protect a sample application, then let people have all the developer tools to study and try to crack the app. The app contains some secret text which cannot be read without running, and it won't run without the license (not included!). So unless you can crack the software protection you can't claim the prize.

No one's ever won in the past and this year was no different. 138 Chinese computer science students, professors, and (for all we know) professional crackers signed up. The prize was about $15,000 (100,000 RMB). And the winner is...no winner. Wibu-Systems once again proved it has the strongest protection for anyone who needs to keep their software from being ripped off.

Topics: dongles, CodeMeter, software copy protection, Wibu-Systems news, software piracy