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USB Flash Drives copy protection: StarForce version

Natalia Yashenkova
Natalia Yashenkova
Head of Marketing and PR at StarForce Technologies

Natalia Yashenkova has more than 15 years experience in software development and information security. Before StarForce Technologies she worked at Netris and Vimcom Optic.

31 Mar 2017

We live in a world full of threats. And our mission is to reduce the threat level for publishers: people and companies that create unique content for sale. Using our products, they get the confidence that their applications, courses, books will be sold, instead of being downloaded for free from pirate sites.

In March 2017 StarForce Technologies presented copy protection with a binding to USB Flash Drives. In this post I am going to tell why we have selected a binding method for copy protection and how it works for USB Flash Drives.

When we talk about copy protection as a rule we mention the following approaches:

  1. Blocking copying functions, e.g. to control applications which are used for file opening and to prohibit using "Save", "Save as", "Print" features. Publishers usually ask about this variant that helps to prevent copying. But in practice it is not easy to realize with a sufficient level of tamper resistance. If it is possible to open a file it automatically means that it is possible to save/copy it from the device memory. To prevent it you need to use special shell software and protected files must be opened inside it. We can create it as a custom development for particular products.
  2. Creating barriers for copying by changing the firmware and creating unreadable sections of files. This will complicate copying, but with patience and relatively little knowledge in information technology, such protection can easily be circumvented.
  3. Using of a binding to a material object, which is difficult to forge. Each device has different parameters (serial numbers, component identifiers) that are added to a device unique profile. Protected files will only work with a device that has this unique profile, so it does not make sense to copy it.

In StarForce solutions we use the third approach – a binding to a material object. What objects can be used? Devices where files can be opened: computers, laptops and media that are used for content delivery: CD, DVD, USB Flash Drives.

A binding to a PC costs less - you don’t need to buy drives for every customer Besides online activation have flexible settings that give you broad options in revoking and changing access conditions. The delivery of files can be arranged over the Internet or on CD/DVD, USB Flash Drives but to open them it is necessary to activate a serial number over the Internet. Activation statistics is available in the personal account.

А binding to a media is preferable when you expect your clients have problems with Internet connection and you don’t want to limit a number of computers where protected files can be used. You can always provide your clients with a USB Flash Drive which can be run it on every computer.

How to protect a USB Flash Drive from copying?

Software protection (exe, dll)

We have two mode of protection: automatic and manual. To increase tamper resistance we recommend to select manual mode, and protect the application functions if it is possible. After setting protection on files you need to extract a digital key from a USB Flash Drive and it binds to the USB Flash Drive’s profile. And it is not necessary save files on the drive – it can be just a key to provide access. This is convenient if the size of the distribution kit is very large or you do not want it to be stored on a USB Flash Drive.

Video and audio protection (avi, mp4, mp3, mpeg, etc.)

The protection of multimedia files is similar to the protection of software except for the preparatory stage - before protection, the content should be added to the StarForce player or converted into an executable file. The protection itself is carried out only in automatic mode.

I can assume that at first glance such a protection option for USB Flash Drives will seem cumbersome, but this is a deceptive impression that will dissipate after free 30 day testing. Using the StarForce Technologies solution, you get a professional level of protection, developed by the market leader, competent and prompt technical support, the ability to use different USB sticks (try first) and perform protection at any convenient time.

Learn more about the solution and try it

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