View Full Version : Question - Detection of Pirated Software

Belinda Williamson
04-11-2009, 2:58 PM
First, I do not use pirated software, but I'm curious about something I was told by a friend. He told me there is a way to detect if a file you receive was created by pirated software. For example, I use EngraveLab. According to my friend, if I send him a file created by an illegal copy of Engravelab his company has software (or something) in place that will flag the file. Is this correct?

Frank Trinkle
04-11-2009, 3:09 PM
It completely depends on the software. Some software leaves an undetectable watermark until it is validated as genuine. Others have a trial period that also leaves a watermark, or some other indicator.

There are many many methods used by software companies in the quest to stop piracy, but the reality is that hackers usually find the codes to eliminate those protections and often can unlock the programs to full validation... much to the expense of the software companies that developed them.

In simple answer to your question... it is possible.. not absolute.

glenn bradley
04-11-2009, 3:12 PM
The logic is actually verification of legal software more than detecting pirated software. That being said; such mechanisms assume all software it cannot verify is pirated. If your manufacturer invoked these policies after you bought your copy there should be a patch or short process to go through to certify your copy.

The detection of file creation by illegal copies is possible but in my experience, not commonly used. I am a network geek so my opinion is based on my narrow experince. Maybe some PC geeks could shed some light on this.

dan sherman
04-11-2009, 3:24 PM
for reference I'm a web application developer, but I spend more time working whit the desktop guys, than I do my own team.

what others have said is right on. Some companies put an electronic fingerprint in the file. The real problem with this, is when someone pirates software, they usually crack the applications security features and it essentially become a valid copy.

However with the internet as wide spread as it is, some companies are implementing a "call home feature" for validation purposes.

Joe Pelonio
04-11-2009, 5:20 PM
Really expensive software uses a hardware "dongle" so that it can only be used on one machine at a time, regardless of how many copies you make of it. My vinyl design software and my wife's embroidery software are that way.

James Stokes
04-11-2009, 5:47 PM
Dongles are easy to crack. A lot of cracked software will show up as a worm when you run a virus scan.

David G Baker
04-11-2009, 6:28 PM
When I first started using computers I had a ton of pirated software because I could not afford to buy what I wanted. I would go to hacker sites and get software keys if the software I had didn't have a key. I downloaded software from Napster when it was a real site. Those days are long gone after I started getting viruses from down loaded and pirated software.
The software that I had the biggest problem with was a version of Windows 98SE that I purchased off of Ebay that I thought was legal. Somewhere hidden in the software is a virus or worm, that I have not been able to locate, that visits me once in a while. I seldom use the computer that has the problem but I know it is still there waiting to show its ugly head.
Most software that I have now makes me go on line before the program is activated so it becomes useless to copy and use on another computer.
The crack and hacker sites are now loaded with all kinds of nasty problems so I never visit them since the first problem.

Phil Thien
04-11-2009, 9:53 PM
While I can't speak specifically to the software you mention, I can tell you this is a technique that will be growing in popularity. Developers know their activation schemes will be hacked. But there will be secondary and tertiary schemes that are invisible to the user. You'll be able to use the hacked version, but if you ship files out (or upload them to a web site), the developer will eventually learn your identity.

Mat Ashton
04-12-2009, 2:09 AM
It would be highly unlikely that your friend has software that can detect with any reliability pirated software. The amount of information needed to be sent and the ease of which the crackers can get around such measures makes it pretty unreliable.

Belinda Williamson
04-12-2009, 9:49 AM
Thanks for all the replies folks. The software I referred to requires a dongle. I just used it as an example.