What USB security dongle is used for?
USB dongles are used to protect software or hardware from unauthorized access or copying, i.e. for the start of software using, decode content or access a device one has to attach the dongle to the system.
A USB security dongle (also referred to as a hardware key) is an electronic copy protection device that should be plugged into a USB port of a computer in order to unlock the functionality of a particular software application. Hardware keys help to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution of licensed software. Without its dongle, the application may run only in a restricted mode, or not at all.
Why is there a need in sharing USB dongles?
Some of the USB security keys support the network license management option, which means several users can access the same protection dongle across LAN. That network (multi-user) security keys can be installed on any computer on the local network, and there’s no need to purchase a separate key for each PC.
This scenario seems to be very convenient for big companies and corporations. However, to buy a security key of this type can be rather costly, and not all companies (much less ordinary users) can afford it. Instead, they opt for USB keys that are built for the use on a single computer.
This, of course, reduces expenses, but at times it is not really convenient. Say, the dongle is attached to the manager’s laptop, while his team that needs access to it is seated across the office or even in another city? How to share USB dongle? Over the Internet? Over Wi-Fi?
Another problem, perhaps, would be working with USB devices in the virtual environment. Usually, virtual machines provide little to no access to the host machine’s ports and, hence, to functionality and content of devices attached to them. Thus, if you need to duplicate a USB dongle, you have to figure out how to share it between a virtual and host machine. What would be the best way to share a USB dongle between two computers or, in fact, any number of computers?