USB key for software copy protection

Design and production of a USB key for copy protection of software

Protezione software USB
The Request

Our client, a company that designs software for CNC machines, was using an off-the-shelf USB dongle to protect their software from piracy. When this dongle was cracked, it became necessary to look for a new solution to protect their core business.

Trusting another existing solution would have exposed them to the same fate: the models on the market are typically used by hundreds of applications and are therefore a large and tempting attack surface. A single working exploit will crack each and every one of these applications.

We were brought in to design a new dongle from scratch that our client could trust the safety of their software to.

Challenges faced

Copy protection dongles are often emulated in software after somebody intercepts the USB traffic and reverse engineers the security protocols.

Solutions implemented

By running part of the application on the dongle itself, we effectively made it an integral part of the application. In addition, all USB traffic was encrypted.

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Advantages of our solution
Advantages of our approach

Develer’s twin roles as provider of hardware and software made us an ideal partner for this project. Our embedded department designed, in record time, a board that met all the requirements and kept production costs low while the software team put their passion for algorithmic problem-solving to work on evaluating the top algorithms of the day.

Advantages of open source

The rule that the best software is the one viewed by the most experts applies more strongly in the field of cryptography than any other. The existence of many high-quality open source cryptographic libraries let us jump start the implementation of the security algorithms on the dongle.