How to Stop Warez Pirates: Ask Them Nicely!

How to Stop Warez Pirates: Ask Them Nicely | TorrentFreak

It’s all in the headline, folks! It’s an article about an independent software developer who simply asked a warez group to stop pirating his software. Not surprisingly, they immediately complied with his request. You see, the “real” pirates don’t do it for profit, they do it just for the hell of it, because there is a huge demand for warez and cracks and all that fun stuff. This guy wrote a really cool program to do light shows and real-time video effects (sounds familiar ?), so it’s just natural that someone noticed and decided to share this very neat thing with everyone.

On the other hand, the asshat in the Chinese market or on a street corner, selling burned DVD movies and copies of Windows Vista for 5 bucks a pop, that’s the enemy. Distributing pirated software for free, while still illegal from a copyright perspective, is a hell of a lot more respectable than shamelessly profiting off someone else’s work.

What I find even more interesting is how he had paid a chunk of money for anti-piracy software, something to disable the application after 30 days. Unsurprisingly, the security system was easily broken and rendered useless. Now I’ve been writing software for a long time, on many different platforms so heed my words: copy-protection doesn’t work. If the software can run on the computer, all the protection in the world won’t stop a dedicated cracker from breaking it in a matter of hours, maybe even minutes! In fact, most of these 30-day trial schemes are trivial to defeat, even for non-programmers! At some point in their execution, they have to decrypt or decompress the actual program being protected, in order for it to be run. When that happens, all you have to do is find that decrypted file on your hard drive – that’s the actual application, stripped of any protection. This is true of just about every protection scheme on the market. Safedisc, Securom, Laserlock… they’re all variations on a theme, because of one important detail: the pirates are smarter and better programmers than the companies selling protection.

I have a gift for cracking and decryption, I don’t know why exactly, but these are things that have always been rather easy for me. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that no matter how complicated and evolved your protection is, there is always a way to break it. Most of the time, you don’t even need to understand how the protection works, you just cripple it at its weakest point: the branch. Here’s a snippet of pseudo code, similar to many commercial anti-piracy solutions:

result = doReallyComplexVerification()
if (result = true) {
GOOD! run the program
} else {
BAD! pirated copy!

Now let’s pretend the “ReallyComplexVerification” is brilliant and way beyond my intellectual capability. I don’t care. All I have to do is change that IF statement. The patched code ends up looking like:

result = true
if (result = true) {
GOOD! run the program
} else {
BAD! pirated copy!

Just by changing the hilighted part, I’ve completely eliminated the security check and fooled the program into believing it passed. In many cases it really is that simple, but there are some protection schemes that try harder and don’t present such weak targets. They might take longer to figure out and break, but eventually they all get cracked. The more popular the application (e.g. Photoshop), the more brilliant hackers will be trying to break it. Even systems that “phone home” like Windows Activation can be easily thwarted by redirecting their network communication to a forged server.

In the end, anti-piracy software is just a big racket. To the warez groups, these are simply seen as challenges. My advice to other developers is don’t waste your money on these tools. If your program is worth pirating, then it will be pirated no matter what. And if you do come across your own product on The Pirate Bay or anywhere, find out who cracked it and send them off an email, or go visit them on IRC. Unlike the security vendors, the dirty BSA or the copyright lawyers, pirates don’t profit from your misfortune, so they’re much more likely to help you do something about it.

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5 Responses to “How to Stop Warez Pirates: Ask Them Nicely!”

  1. Billco says:

    You must be new here. Door’s to your left.

  2. BitBurn says:

    Hey le gros envoye pas tes fans calisse!

  3. Billco says:

    S’pas un fan, ct’un restant d’crosse!

    Anyway, chu anti-social !

  4. BullShitKilla says:

    PS and nonya fuckers can decrypt maxscript. So Auto is safe.

  5. Billco says:

    Nobody insults people on my site but ME!

    ok kids, back to MySpace you go… banned!