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Marketplace "copy protection" cracked

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By Chainfire, Moderator Emeritus / Senior Recognized Developer - Where is my shirt? on 5th October 2009, 06:38 PM
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I will not do anything with this, or publish how. But you can be assured the "warez" guys from that one site will figure this out within a day or so as well...

As most of you will know I am a software developer by trade, with some commercial offerings from my company.

And then there was Marketplace. For commercial devs, something nice to have. But if you have followed the news, the piracy protection for commercial developers is not much to speak of. See this document

I will refrain from quoting the obvious mistakes in this document, if you give this thing a read, you will notice them soon enough. What it all comes down to is that there is no copy protection, not even at the advanced level, at least if they implement it in the way I interpret from reading that document.

So today I started up Marketplace and it worked. Hurrah. The current level of protection is making sure the CAB files are deleted upon install - which is obviously not a way to protect anything - but even this, I thought, should easily be circumventable.

Now, because I wanted to see how fast it could be done, I went with a hunch instead of doing any investigation. And that hunch worked like charm. It took me less than five minutes to circumvent this "protection", and get the ability to save the CABs the MarketPlace app downloads to a different folder. As the CAB file is the same for every downloader, you could just give this CAB you payed for out to all your friends.

Obviously I will not disclose the method, because that would be working against other commercial developers, and ultimately myself. It's just to let you know how ridiculously easy it is, and to give fair warning to those looking to sell apps on the Marketplace.

So, the moral of the story is... WTF MICROSOFT?

I know firsthand there is no such thing as perfect copy protection, but this is just plain ridiculous.

What we really need is for apps to be able to use our own copy protection schemes... you know, like the good web-based app stores out there.

EDIT: l3v5y has also succeeded in doing something similar, and it seems the WMPowerUser admin also found another easy way to do it... Yay, and it ain't even out yet!
5th October 2009, 06:45 PM |#2  
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Not even 12 hours after launch...that's pretty quick
5th October 2009, 06:49 PM |#3  
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Oh noes.... that's not good!
Imagine Microsoft reads this and decides to offset tomorrow's Marketplace launch...
Or even worse, Microsoft launches the Marketplace but developers decide not to submit their apps because they're concerned that their apps get pirated.
5th October 2009, 06:53 PM |#4  
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Thats what happens when devices aren't locked down.
5th October 2009, 07:06 PM |#5  
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That sounds bad, but it's really no different to how things are today. Perhaps there are some apps that have more security than either nothing or a serial key, but none that I use have anything more sophisticated.

Even as a developer myself, I'd easily take this over some DRMfest.
5th October 2009, 07:09 PM |#6  
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So, if I'm reading this correctly, when you buy something from marketplace it's not tied into your username with a password like most apps? Instead, you just buy it and it installs the app, but doesn't give you a cab? Yeah, I don't think it's that hard to work around that and get a cab for yourself. Some of the cheaper apps at Handango are like that. Can you re-download an app onto a new device or if you have to hard reset, and is it free or do you need to buy download protection like form Handango?
5th October 2009, 07:52 PM |#7  
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Good, copy protection pisses me off, all it does is piss of the genuine users. We have to deal with codes and activation to be legit, while people getting it free, just click here and there, copy a code here and huzah.

Copy protection doesnt work, someone will always find a way around it. Unless its linked to a windows live profile/xbox live profile. Which I can see probably happening when they bring out Zune on mobile phones, which sounds like it might be sooner rather than later!
5th October 2009, 08:54 PM |#8  
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I did something like this earlier... MS haven't quite got security done yet, though my guess is the iPhone is no better...
5th October 2009, 11:17 PM |#9  
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I'm really surprised by the lack of any drm; what's the point of signing in w/ one's Windows Live account? The easiest thing to do is to associate valid applications w/ one's Window's Live account. That's what itunes does for music at least (I don't know about apps as I don't have an iphone/ipod touch). Of course, what would happen is that an internet connection of some form is needed when the application is first installed, which could become inconvenient.
5th October 2009, 11:54 PM |#10  
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The truth of the matter is that the percentage or ratio of people who would bother to do this is pretty small. Most WinMo usersbarely even know how to setup e-mail not to mention install a cab file.

Most of the people in this forum already know how and where to get cracked apps or warez if they wanted too. I don't see this so called "flaw" as being an issue to MS or developers.
7th October 2009, 12:30 PM |#11  
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Must admit that I find it a bit worrying that your not able to make a backup of the applications you buy by taking a copy of the cab file somewhere safe.

After having sent back 4 HTC phones (two different models) in the last 10 months, and having an SD die on me I'd really like to know that I have a backup of anything I've paid for.

Can anyone confirm if its possible to reinstall something you've paid for through the Marketplace app if it gets removed from your phone, or you get another phone? ie if you log into Marketplace with the same Lice ID does it show apps that you've bought but which aren't on the phone your connected with?

If I look at an app that I have installed through Marketplace there is no install button anymore and Marketplace tells me that it is installed... so no obvious way to get the application back...

Not enough free apps on the UK store for me to mess about with really (have installed Shazam trial but don't want to risk uninstaling it just to see what happens).

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