In this simple article, I am going to show how you can protect your software from unauthorized copying by creating a serial number/activation key pair based on the physical address (MAC) of the network adapter on the client's machine.
Getting the MAC Address and Generating the Serial Number
The first step is to get the MAC address of the client's machine. This could be achieved by using the
ManagementClass class located in the
System.Management assembly. We have to add a reference to that assembly to our project, and import it into SecurityManager.vb, which will be the class in which we place the
CheckKey() functions. These two functions will be responsible for generating the serial number from the MAC address and checking whether the key entered by the user is valid. As a first step, we define the
GetSerial() function as follows:
Public Function GetSerial() As Long
Dim mc As New ManagementClass("Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration")
Dim mac As String = ""
Dim moc As ManagementObjectCollection = mc.GetInstances
For Each mo As ManagementObject In moc
If mo.Item("IPEnabled") Then
mac = mo.Item("MacAddress").ToString
Dim sum As Long = 0
Dim index As Integer = 1
For Each ch As Char In mac
If Char.IsDigit(ch) Then
sum += sum + Integer.Parse(ch) * (index * 2)
ElseIf Char.IsLetter(ch) Then
Select Case ch.ToString.ToUpper
sum += sum + 10 * (index * 2)
sum += sum + 11 * (index * 2)
sum += sum + 12 * (index * 2)
sum += sum + 13 * (index * 2)
sum += sum + 14 * (index * 2)
sum += sum + 15 * (index * 2)
index += 1
This function will give us the unique serial number of each MAC address (not totally unique, but similar to hash function uniqueness).
Generating Activation Key from the Serial Number
The second step is to create the key generator which will generate the activation key from a given serial number. This generator will be placed in a class called
KeyGenerator. This class will contain a function which will apply a simple mathematical function on the serial number to get the activation key. In this case, I will use the function f(x) = x2 + 53/x + 113 * (x/4).
Public Class KeyGenerator
Public Function GenerateKey(ByVal serial As Long) As Long
Dim x As Long = serial
Return x * x + 53 / x + 113 * (x / 4)
Back to SecurityManager.vb, we need to add one more function, which is
CheckKey(). This function will take the activation key as a parameter, apply the key-generating function on the current MAC address, then compare the two keys to see whether they match or not.
Public Function CheckKey(ByVal key As Long) As Boolean
Dim x As Long = GetSerial()
Dim y As Long = x * x + 53 / x + 113 * (x / 4)
Return y = key
One important note left: do not place all of these classes in your client's solution! Remember that the key-generating class is only owned by you.
Now you can use these classes to protect your software. You can also use more complicated functions to ensure more security. The key generator may look like this:
If everything is alright, the user would get the following message.
For more articles, please visit my blog (in Arabic only).
I am holding a B.Sc in computer science from Al-Quds University, which is the only Arab university in Jerusalem. I ranked first among my colleagues with GPA of 80.2.
I have been working as teaching and research assistant at CS Dpartment, Al-Quds University since April 2006.
Currently, I am preparing to travel to Jordan to continue my graduate studies in Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) after being awarded a scholarship from German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for two years.