Don't fool your users

Today, I finally got into reading the series on anticracking I mentioned in my previous post. In one of the articles, I found this suggestion on what to do if you detect that your program is being cracked†:

Instead of crashing the program, you should wait several days and then change the way the program reacts. For example, in a graphical program when the user of illegal version picks green colour, the program will draw with blue colour.

The intention of this is clear: discrediting the cracker. If he doesn’t notice this additional protection layer and ships his (unfinished) crack, his credit among the cracker community will be degraded.

In reality, though, the one with degraded credit will be you. “Do not use the X program. It’s full of bugs and works in an unpredictable way.”

People do not usually associate bugs in programs with unfinished cracks. If a program works just fine after it was cracked, people tend to forget that the program was ever cracked. All errors that show up after a certain period of time will be automatically associated with you.

If you want to include delayed checks in your protection, make sure they behave in a direct way. You detected that your program is partially cracked? Show a message box‡. Display a message on the application title bar. Inform your users. Do not let them make false assumptions about your program.

There are many ways how to detect this – a checksum doesn’t match, the registration verification procedure returned true even though the code supplyed was intentionally not valid, etc.

Of course, do not forget to hide the message in the code appropriately. You don’t want to bring the attention to this code, do you?

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