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Serial Numbers/Registration Keys

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 01:28

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question but ...

In the past I created very complicated setups for software that was used in nuclear power plant control systems. It was so specialized that we sold turnkey systems (hardware/software/service contracts). This was a very high cost/very low volume market in which our setups had no real need for product activation/registration because piracy and unlicensed redistribution were non-issues.

Now I am working for a startup company in a totally different application market where we plan to distribute lower cost/higher volume applications with a variety of licensing arrangements.

I have no idea where to start in terms of creating serial key/registration key pairs for software that may be dsitributed via internet downloads.

Can anyone point me to any resources that describe how product activation is typically managed and implemented both in terms of setup creation and protection of applications against unlicensed use?



Stefan Krueger

Stefan Krueger


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Posted 16 December 2004 - 07:55

Look here for example:


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Posted 22 December 2005 - 18:16

You can implement a xml signature solution. The installer or the program creates a file with unique information based on the machine like SID, MAC address, version information, install date. The user sends this information to you, in xml format.

You process this information applying a digital signature to it. Afterwards you return this file to the user with indications where he should store this information within the application path.

The assambly of your programm holds within an embedded resource a public key that corresponds to the private key used to sign the xml file. Your programm detects that there is a license file available and will check the signature first. If it is valid you may countercheck the SID, MAC address, etc.

If the license file is used on another computer or altered in any way it won't work any more and you're programme falls back to it's initial state requesting asking the user to demand for a valid license. Everything depends on how interesting your programme is for the end user. The license file can be signed and created automatically in combination with an online paying system.