Useful terms in understanding the software cracker world and how they will try and pirate your Software application.
Pirates beat DRMs through Exploits, KeyGens and Cracks. Each of these approaches is distinct, and requires differing amounts of effort to avoid being pirated.
A brief description of each, in order of least to most effort involved to make them work, can be found below.
Exploits are holes in a DRM that can be circumvented without downloading anything to the computer. For example, going into the registry to delete a time limit on a game demo, renaming a hidden .exe file, or using task manager to ‘quit’ the DRM are all things that have been done in the past or can be done currently to circumvent casual game DRMs.
Most DRMs work around an encryption system that delivers the full game to players but limits them to a 60 minute trial. The full game can be unlocked by entering in a serial-type key into the game. Keygens are programs that illegally create serial keys to unlock a portal’s games. They are distributed in multiple ways, often shared among friends, as well as being sold or provided free of charge on web sites around the Internet.
Cracks are perhaps the most commonly mentioned type of piracy. In this case the entire game is made DRM free by the addition of a file that impedes the DRM. Closely associated with cracks are ‘cracked games.’ This refers to a DRM-free version of the game that was cracked and then distributed by pirates. Obtaining a crack or a cracked game requires downloading files to the customer’s computer from locations that are clearly illegitimate.