When buying a licensed computer program a user gets specified number of its working copies (in most cases only one). Naturally, the term "copy protection", which is generally accepted in the international practice, is rather conditional, as it is almost always possible to rewrite the information from the medium and make its multiple backup copies. The matter, however, is that to protect copyright and the commercial rights of developers, the program must be executed only on a limited number of computers, which is usually defined in a user agreement.
In this regard, the main mission of software copy protection is to guarantee the impossibility of running a licensed program on more computers than allowed by its developers and distributors. To protect their solutions against illegal copying and unauthorized execution, software providers use special hardware keys that lock and unlock programs so that they cannot be accessed without the permission of the developer or the distributor company.
In this article, we’ll highlight the pros and cons of hardware security keys and tell you about the most efficient dongle key emulator that will let you access your hardware solutions remotely.
- What’s a dongle key?
- Pros and cons of using security keys
- How to emulate a hardware dongle: USB key emulator software.
- Step-by-step guide.
What’s a dongle key?
A hardware key (also called a "dongle") is a small electronic device that plugs into the USB port of the computer. Once the protected program is launched, it starts looking for the key and its parameters. If the security key is not found (the devices usually generate a response code which is analyzed by the app), the program will not run (or access to the data will not be allowed).
The sphere of application of security keys has significantly expanded in recent years. Today, dongles serve for identifying the software copy owner, storing their personal electronic signature or confidential information, can be used as a credit smart card or electronic money.
Benefits and drawbacks of hardware dongle protection
- You can insert your USB dongle into any computer on which you need to run the program;
- The hardware solution does not require a drive;
- An electronic key is able to perform cryptographic transformations;
- Modern USB keys can execute arbitrary code written by the developer (e.g. Guardant Code, Senselock, etc.)
Hardware keys ensure reliable protection of a software copy thanks to the mechanism which does not allow the key security information (cryptographic keys, downloadable codes) to leave the device while you access it.
- Possible incompatibility of the protection system with the user’s system software (drivers/programs for modems, printers, etc.);
- Possible incompatibility of the protection system with the hardware peripherals of a particular PC;
- Possible incompatibility of electronic keys provided by different manufacturers (the user may have several products with security systems of different brands);
- Reduced extensibility of the computer system (occupied slots);
- Difficulties or inability to use the protected software on portable PCs, laptops (due to size, power consumption);
- The threat of theft of the hardware key (in this case, the customer completely loses the possibility of using legally purchased software);
- Inability to access your security dongle in a virtual environment, and other.
To help you overcome the inconveniences related to using hardware keys, Eltima Software has developed a unique solution - dongle emulator software called FlexiHub.
Simple and efficient USB security dongle emulator
FlexiHub is a handy app that allows users to create a copy of a hardware USB key and redirect it over the network. The solution will let you access your security dongle from any remote location, no matter how far away you are from the physical device. FlexiHub is a USB license dongle emulator that works across LAN, Ethernet, WiFi, and the Internet.
Connected via FlexiHub, the device will be recognized by a remote machine as though it were connected directly to a USB port of that PC. With this 3Shape and SigmaKey dongle emulator, you can not only share your license key among multiple users at a time but access it from a virtual machine easily and effortlessly.
What’s important is that FlexiHub is a legal way to share your USB key. It uses advanced traffic encryption and helps establish secure connections to your remote USB devices over any distance.
- First, you install FlexiHub on all of your computers that need to get access to the hardware key, including the one where the dongle is connected physically.
- Once the software is installed, register your FlexiHub account, it’s free.
- After that, launch FlexiHub on the computer with the device physically attached and sign in using your newly created login credentials.
- Finally, start the app on your remote computer and log in using the same info. Find the shared device in FlexiHub interface and click “Connect”.
This is it! Now, you can access the remote USB dongle without having it physically attached to your PC.