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Over the years the methods used by software developers and producers to limit the amount of users to a specific number in a licensing agreement have become more complex. The aim of copy protection is to protect the intellectual rights and financial investment of the individual developers and manufacturing companies.
A way of getting around this protection is to reproduce the media through which you can deliver the application to other users, meaning that the software can be replicated far in excess of that specified in the license.
One of the most common methods has been to use hardware keys or dongles which will enable the user to activate an application, unlocking its full functionality without using a device. In addition, it offers good protection against attempts to pirate the software.
In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of using hardware security keys and we will also describe how using a dongle emulator allows that key to be distributed to multiple users within a network.
Software for USB key emulation
A software USB emulator means that a user can take a virtual copy of a security key. This means that the key can then be used across a network and accessed from any remote location. A user does not have to be close to the device to use it. An example of this is FlexiHub which can work on a variety of IP based networks including, Ethernet, LAN and WiFi.
FlexiHub works by making it look like the security key is directly attached to a remote computer via the USB port. You can share the key with multiple users and access devices virtually. You can also share 3Shape and SigmaKey dongles should you so choose.
How to emulate a USB dongle
The type of software that uses dongles tends to be specialized and therefore more expensive. If the dongle is lost it can mean the cost of purchasing the entire package in order to replace it. Those who support the idea of dongle emulation feel that the hundreds of dollars it costs to replace a dongle is an unfair restriction stemming from a lack of understanding of how they are utilized by the end user.
The earliest from of dongle software protection meant that in order for the device to be used it had to be physically connected to a machine. This was then bypassed by hackers who would trick the software into launching. The developers’ response to this was to integrate program code or supplementary tasks within the dongle, making it an essential component to allow the user to run the software. This means that it is no longer enough for a machine to simply register the dongle.
It is likely that hackers will eventually crack these newer dongles and that newer and more complex encryption methods will be needed.
HASP dongle emulator
A software HASP emulator for the Aladdin HASP and Safe-Net HASP enables you to backup and virtualize the dongle. It enables you to run protected software just as if the physical security key is attached to your machine. The tool works with parallel HASP hardware keys and USB dongles. Using this HASP key emulator helps protect the original device from damage, loss or theft. The Safe-Net HASP dongle emulator allows you to access protected applications from within virtual machines. Unfortunately, not all USB keys are supported by this solution.
Soft-Key Solutions has been offering solutions for security key users since 1998. They provide a Sentinel dongle emulator that encompasses SafeNet’s complete family of Sentinel HL keys including HASP, TimeHASP, NetHASP, and MemoHASP. The software does not impose limitations on the number of supported programs and is transparent to other dongles. The physical security key and its emulation can be used simultaneously. No changes are made to the software or the original driver.