I posted a GQ thread about the techniques crackers use to by-pass Anti-Virus network-authentication of software licenses. I did so with the assumption that said techniques are extremely technical and that my academic query would in no way contribute to illegal activity due to the sophisticated computer science background that any potential hacker would require to actually carry-out the activity. Or more simply put, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity (and potentially that of other dopers) by discussing the a highly complex security issue in layman’s terms which would only serve to inform normal computer users such as myself.
Did I break the SDMB rules? See below for the OP.
Software Piracy of Online Services
We had our computer-technician come to the house yesterday to setup a new windows pc. He suggested we install a pirated copy of Norton Antivirus to protect the computer. We politely declined, however I’m quite curious as to how that sort of software came to be pirated. Now I now the board has strict rules about the discussion of this type of subject so MODs, feel free to edit or delete this thread per at your discretion, but I think this thread should be kosher.
What I’m curious about is how software pirates can provide illegal copies of software that regularly calls home i.e. Norton Antivirus presumably checks with norton.com on a very regular basis to see if virus definitions are up to date. So why wouldn’t the norton servers tell the local software “error, your copy is pirated”? The computer tech showed us the pirated copy he had running successfully on his laptop. Obviously the hackers have found a way to pirate the AV software, despite its regular conversations with Norton servers.
Perhaps YOU wanted a discussion “in layman’s terms;” but considering the variety of expertise available on the Dope some of the answers could very well have been given in very sophisticated technical terms.
I would guess there is no way to really answer your question without discussing how to perform an illegal activity, whether in general or technical terms. Now perhaps the general answer wouldn’t assist a potential hacker much; but neither you nor the mods can be assured technical answers wouldn’t be given that would allow someone to violate security. (And there may be those in the audience, including guests, who might have sufficient expretise to exploit what they learned.)
Seems to me trying to monitor such a thread would be far more trouble than it was worth.
I thought it should have stayed open with a mod warning as to answers. I was in the middle of writing a highly theoretical answer that would have helped no one actually hack the software when it was locked. It appears to me that the basic theoretical answer to the OP’s question is so basic that anyone who knows enough to hack is already going to know anyway.
Could it be possible that the Norton anti-virus he would have given you wouldn’t be able to use the live update? Basically just giving you the most recent virus list? Not that would make it legal, but it would explain away most technical difficulties, lol.
Your closed thread inspired my Pit thread, though it does specifically parse software piracy from the discussion. Too nebulous and I leave it to the admin’s heads.
Squink: You’re out to lunch if you think that having a public discussion about the methods employed by criminals is synonymous with commiting a crime.
My thread was in not going to result in a manual for circumventing the copy-protection mechanisms of a 100 million dollar company. Rather, it was simply going to bring to light the jist of the tricks used by the expert hackers.
When Jon Lech Johansen posted a the hundred or so lines of code to break CSS encryption, he was arguably violating the DMCA (not he was in america, of course). But for us to explain, in much the same way as the wikipedia article on DeCSS, how he managed to do it, is neither illegal or unethical.
Certainly, a high level explanation could have been given that would make satisfying sense; it’s just as likely that someone would come along and post something starting with “Insert Tab A into Slot B.”
I saw a risk that someone would post explicit instructions. The policy of the board, for as long as I’ve been a member, has been not to allow such instructions. I would compare your thread to one entitled: How do I use file-sharing software to download copyrighted movies? (I hasten to add, I don’t believe your purpose was bad.)
By the way - you’re never going to call the “tech” again right? I wouldn’t let a guy work on my computer if he suggested I use pirated software, let alone AV software (which can be had for free, legally, from Grisoft) and on top of all that, SYMANTEC software.
It’s like Leviticus itself; like God, the moderators have the final word on what is allowed and, being as they are not answerable to us, it doesn’t matter to them if we understand the logic of their rules or not.