* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Get a free license for a license protection tool (*conditions)

We have developed a license protection tool that can be used in several environments and platforms (.NET, COM, C#, VB, VB.NET, MS Office, Web apps, desktop apps etc ....).

We would like to increase our reach and use of software in variety of  environments/platforms. We are offering limited number of license keys for free for anyone who

- would like to do a fair review of our product and potentially publish their review on a blog article etc ....

- would like to use our product to protect their software product and the type software product is a type that we are interested in (to increase use of software in variety of environments/platforms)

Please drop us a line at our website's contact us page, if you think you can benefit from a free license and let us know in what type of application/environment/platform you intend to use the license protection tool.
axum Send private email
Thursday, January 09, 2014
 
 
I won't be taking you up on your offer and I don't used .NET for any of my applications. However, I thought you might like some unsolicited feedback on your website. Your display slider on the top left of your landing page has a banner across the bottom than hides one of the benefits of your software. This looks a bit sloppy.  HTH
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Thursday, January 09, 2014
 
 
Your VB.NET sample code:

If license.IsValid Then
    license.Save()
End If

So all a cracker has to do is patch the protected app with "license.IsValid" before this test, and the app will run in full mode.... am I missing something?
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, January 09, 2014
 
 
Andrew,

thank you for feedback. The slider is now updated to show all content.

PSB136,

It is literally impossible to create a software that cannot be patched to by pass license validation. Even binaries compiled using C++ can be patched to bypass license validation by adding a simple jump machine instruction.

With enough skill and determination any software can be cracked. Anyone who is determined to crack your software won't most likely pay for your software. As a result, the goal of license validation is simply to prevent "Casual Piracy" and help honest customers keep being honest!

However, the example code was presented in the most simplest form as a quick start. One should always add additional validation to make it difficult to crack your application. Some of the approaches for strengthening your license validation are outlined here http://goo.gl/0zW9Kf.

Other common techniques also include,

- sign and/or hash your binaries and validate the signature and/or hash at runtime and terminate your application if it is tampered.

- Check other things other than "IsValid". For example, some features/flags should be enabled if the license key is valid. Check date limits, license type, created date etc...

- Embed custom data in your license key.  For example, you can embed portion of an assembly and at run time you load this assembly by merging the bytes that come from the custom data and from some file location. This way your app won't load /work if it doesn't have a valid license.

- Use a bit of a string based reflective code (for example, load your license validator class using reflection)  and encrypt this string manually or using an obfuscation tool.

You can add other forms of validation at different layers, but make sure that you don't over do it to strike a balance to create an effective license checking that does not get in the way of the honest user.
axum Send private email
Thursday, January 09, 2014
 
 
Hmmm... some of that language looks awfully familiar. It turns out I was helping a competitor develop a competing product a few years ago: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.841536.4#discussTopic841539

Oops. Silly me. :)



@PSB136

Yep, everything can be cracked. It's exceptionally easy (no matter what language) on "regular" PCs / Macs. It's marginally harder (but by no means impossible) to crack systems / software on specialized hardware. For one example of the latter, see the cracking of the Wii U console: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oss_dwj-IkE

It took those guys about a month after its public release to completely "own" the system without altering the hardware. A system which, at the time, was the state of the art custom-hardware gaming system.


So, yeah. Everything can be cracked. Some of our competitors like to lie about this and offer anti-cracking / anti-debugging snake oils: http://wyday.com/limelm/features/why/#snake-oil


From quickly skimming the axum/SimpleMode site, it doesn't appear he has joined the dark side (selling snake oil). Maybe it's the beginning of a trend in the industry and the sleazy companies will stop making those claims. My cynical self says no.

Also, apropos of giving away free stuff, LimeLM has a free plan: https://wyday.com/limelm/signup/free/

You don't even need to write a blog post about us to get it. :)
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Thursday, January 09, 2014
 
 
> You don't even need to write a blog post about us to get it

I know, because you write enough blog posts about yourself in these forums every month instead.  :)  Sorry, couldn't resist!
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, January 10, 2014
 
 
Touché.
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Friday, January 10, 2014
 
 
You did walk into that one...  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, January 10, 2014
 
 
And I know you're just advertising, so I understand.  Just having a friendly dig at ya.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, January 10, 2014
 
 
@Wyatt

Yes, the wordings look similar. A quick google search of the keywords (such as "Casual Piracy", "keep honest users honest" etc...) shows that the keywords nowadays are used by many vendors. Perhaps a sign that vendors are moving away from a "snake oil" approach.

I was open about the intention to build a licensing software a while ago http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.821630.3
and you have warned us about the volume of competition back then  :) ... yes "Competition makes us all work harder - customers win."

At times it appears that licensing solution users are looking for  "snake oil" that is magically unbreakable. However, we have decided not to go down this route but instead created a simple and flexible licensing solution. Building the solution had its own challenges and we are now experiencing the marketing challenges.
axum Send private email
Sunday, January 12, 2014
 
 
I would like a simple concurrent license monitoring tool that does not include license generation or validation features as I have one I am very satisfied with. Also NOT cloud based or subscription. I just need it to get a head count ping back from current running copies when  new one tries to start.
Cidtek Send private email
Monday, January 13, 2014
 
 

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