Crack Detection

I was reading a blog about a guy’s application that got cracked. He thought he was losing sales due to cracked versions of his app being distributed on torrents. Whether that is an accurate depiction of reality is not of concern to me right now. I was more interested in his desire to get back at the crackers. His rage was understandable. His methods were of great interest.

First this software author decided to be able to detect a cracked version. He decided to make his applications “phone home” over the Internet. They would use some type of public/private key encryption to make sure he knew it was his applications. Each app he sold would have some unique keys. Once he found the same key phone home from all over the place, he could assume that people were stealing his software.

Here was the big decision. What was he to do when the software detected unauthorized use? Some say he should just make his app behave poorly. If people think his app is no good, they will not use it. That might defeat the purpose of marketing though. He did not want to be known to legitimate buyers as making shoddy software. That’s when the evil plan clicked in his head.

The app could do evil thing to the target computer once it detected that it had been cracked. There was a world of bad things he could do. After all, the guy is a programmer. His disgust at losing cash due to being cracked would drive him on. His goal would be to do the most evil before the user who stole his software knew what hit him. Alas. This fellow programmer had crossed over to the dark side.

It was time to redirect the energy into future improvement to his program. It was time to refocus on the original goal of solving legitimate user problems, and in the process making cash. I still liked the sound of this developer laughing the mad scientist laugh while he worked on code to hack the machines of thieves. And no, this evil programmer is not me. I don’t have any software for sale that someone can crack. I give all my stuff away for free anyway.