Sunday, January 30, 2005

Crazy software protection-the kamikaze program

Every developer hates software pirates, and nearly every user has sympathy for a developer including some protection code to hinder the cracking process. After all-if a program is available in a cracked form, many will not buy the registered program anymore. Including a troutine that softresets the PDA slows it down,.. is all ok for most users-but wiping out all data?
A PocketPC programmer called Anton Tomov is said to have a very vitriolic attitude towards software pirates and seems to have no problems whatsoever with punishing them as hard as possible. His programs include an automatic self-destruct function that hard-resets the handset when a cracked serial number is entered or program manipulation seems to have occurred. Perfectly reasonable, isn't it?
Actually, at first I didn't quite understand ther fuzz that was made about all of this. But then, thought struck me. What would happen if a user downloads the file somewhere and somebody maliciously gives him a bad serial number? What would hapen if somebody downloads the program and it gets corrupt while beeing transferred(this can happen, trust me)? These two more-less legitimate users would now have all of their data wiped out forever. Now, think about that for a minute-lose all you data for nothing. Will you ever buy a program with the culprit again? Actually, I would be so pissed that I may just send him a virus in return. If this ever hapened to me, the developer would never ever see a cent of my hard-earned bucks. Actually, I would not really care if the developer wanted to damage my handheld or not. And now think of an user who has less technical knowledge and doesnt even know what a software pirate is. What would he think?
Lets conclude-never ever include severe copyright protection schemes! Even if you didn't intend to hit users, if someone will get hit somehow, he will definitely blame you for it-regardless if it was your fault or not. Bug'em, slow'em down, annoy'em, but don't kill their data...
What do you think about this subject?


Blogger Roustem Karimov said...

Also, do not forget that programs usually have bugs and the self-destruct function could run just because of developer's own mistake... I am not buying software with such bomb hidden inside.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Companies have done this before - and gotten sued every time.

While the author has the right to protect his property, that right stops at the program itself.

I can understand him disabling his program, but not erasing the whole device. (Although you can argue that since the PDA is an extention of the PC and that everything that's on the PDA is on the PC, that he really didn't do any damage since a reload will restore the PDA to the way it was before the erasure.)

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and of course you could just enter your legitimate number wrong. "well it looks like a 1...maybe it's an l". I actually can't imagine anyone foolish enought to put this programmers software on their device. I would never send a virus, but I would encourage everyone I know or come incontact with to avoid this developer like the plague ;^)

-- PhillyPocket

4:44 PM  
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I can only agree to all of you!
Best regards
Tam Hanna

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