New Anti-Piracy Software for .NET

ByteShield’s Software Usage Management solution protects game and PC-application developers from would-be hackers.

Digital rights management (DRM) is a royal pain for developers, because while it's designed to protect content owners' rights, it annoys end users and crackers still manage to cut through.

Despite DRM, piracy is a problem that continues to grow. Losses from PC software piracy worldwide have increased by $8 billion last year, totaling $48 billion, according to a report by IDC.

ByteShield Inc., a San Francisco-based software-management firm, says it has come up with a novel approach that lets developers protect software from prying pirates. The company's Software Usage Management (SUM) product acknowledges that any protection created by humans can be cracked by humans.

Says ByteShield CEO Jan Samzelius: "The real issue is the number of hurdles the software protection solution puts up -- the time required to overcome them, whether they must be overcome one at a time or can be circumvented programmatically."

The company focuses on PC-app game developers. It made a splash at this year's Microsoft Game Technology Conference in Seattle, and the company just released a new version of its anti-piracy software for .NET. The Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems are ubiquitous, Samzelius says, and their tie to .NET Framework makes this release essential.

SUM creates numerous hurdles for would-be hackers, including the very smooth move of removing small but critical pieces of the code it's protecting and replacing them at run-time. An attacker is thus forced to find and fix one piece at a time -- that's 1,000, 10,000 or even 100,000 pieces of code. For most, the hassle just isn't worth it. The company employs a central server to manage this protection scheme and to verify the user license.

The SUM solution achieves its goals with a low impact on the performance of the software being protected, Samzelius says. The addition of the ByteAdmin online-management tool gives added remote-usage control and management of licenses and activation codes to the package.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at

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