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Posted 18 Sep 2003
Licenced CPOL

Locking shareware functions

, 18 Sep 2003
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This article describes how to lock some functions in a shareware product. Users can unlock them only after obtaining keyfile


If you're shareware programmer, you may need to lock some functions of your product from unauthorized access. Problem is that hackers can unlock these functions without your permission. :-) In this article I'll show how to lock shareware functions and to reduce of risk of a hacker cracking your product.


Basic idea is that we call hidden shareware functions by its address, which we pass to user in key file. In this case, hacker can't crack the program because he cannot determine the necessary address of a protected function. In the provided demo project, the address of function is stored in an open kind ( pass.txt file), but nothing hinders you to encrypt this address by user's hard disk serial number, for example.

The required Steps

  1. Let's find out the address of the function:
    // somewhere in program body our shareware function lives 
    void HiddenPaintFunc(DWORD pv,DWORD pp)
    BOOL CSharewareDialog::OnInitDialog()
    // let's find out its address. It can be done with debugger, 
    // or simply like this:
    CString strAddress;
    AfxMessageBox(strAddress);// this string need to be commented  
                              // after obtaining an address
  2. Create a key file in hex editor and write an address to it ( don't forget about the return order - for example: 00401602 -> 02164000)
  3. At last, instead of a customary function call, we write the following :
    void CSharewareDialog::INeedCallLockedFunction(CDC*pDC)
      pFile=fopen("C:\\pass.txt","r");// open key file
                  DWORD dwHidden=0;
         DWORD dwParam=(DWORD)pDC;
         DWORD dwParam2=(DWORD)this;
        xor ebx,ebx
        mov ebx,dwParam // pass some parameters
        push ebx
        mov ebx,dwParam2
        push ebx
        call dwHidden    // address of function we've got from key file
                         // if key file is wrong - jump to anywhere
        AfxMessageBox("You must register this program.");
            AfxMessageBox("You must register this program.");
            AfxMessageBox("You must register this program.");
  4. That's all.


It is necessary to keep track of the address of the shareware function, as it may be changed from build to build.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer
Russian Federation Russian Federation
Professional Windows/Java Mobile/Web-applications developer since 2000.

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralImproving Pin
winx26-Jan-06 21:30
memberwinx26-Jan-06 21:30 
General:-) nice Pin
MREBI24-Sep-03 4:49
memberMREBI24-Sep-03 4:49 
Generalgood try, but too easy to crack Pin
TekCat23-Sep-03 21:20
memberTekCat23-Sep-03 21:20 
Questionwhat ? Pin
Anonymous20-Sep-03 1:39
memberAnonymous20-Sep-03 1:39 
AnswerRe: what ? Pin
John M. Drescher20-Sep-03 5:35
memberJohn M. Drescher20-Sep-03 5:35 
GeneralRe: what ? Pin
Colin Angus Mackay3-Dec-03 14:39
memberColin Angus Mackay3-Dec-03 14:39 
GeneralRe: what ? Pin
John M. Drescher3-Dec-03 15:00
memberJohn M. Drescher3-Dec-03 15:00 
GeneralNot sure if this such a good idea Pin
Brian Shifrin20-Sep-03 1:25
memberBrian Shifrin20-Sep-03 1:25 
GeneralRe: Not sure if this such a good idea Pin
CyberSky20-Sep-03 9:56
memberCyberSky20-Sep-03 9:56 
GeneralRe: Not sure if this such a good idea Pin
Anatoly Ivasyuk20-Sep-03 10:02
memberAnatoly Ivasyuk20-Sep-03 10:02 
GeneralAvoid AfxMessageBox... Pin
Stephane Rodriguez.18-Sep-03 23:22
memberStephane Rodriguez.18-Sep-03 23:22 
QuestionOpen file in text mode?? Pin
Anonymous18-Sep-03 23:20
memberAnonymous18-Sep-03 23:20 
GeneralBuffer overflow Pin
Anonymous18-Sep-03 23:16
memberAnonymous18-Sep-03 23:16 
GeneralTurns out to be the same as every cracking problem Pin
Anonymous18-Sep-03 23:12
memberAnonymous18-Sep-03 23:12 
GeneralCrashes in debug mode. Pin
WREY18-Sep-03 20:50
memberWREY18-Sep-03 20:50 
GeneralA good try, but not foolproof. Pin
WREY18-Sep-03 20:20
memberWREY18-Sep-03 20:20 

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