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Perfection in Protection, Licensing, and Security

Stop Hackers from Pirating Trial Software

January 2016
Author: Wibu-Systems
Stop Hackers from Pirating Trial Software

Is handing over a free trial license still a valid marketing strategy or does it offer another avenue for hackers to gain illegal access to the program forever?

Many software developers have turned to the free trial business model to market their enterprise software – simply put, offer free software for a timed period and hope the end user performs a thorough evaluation and sees enough value to warrant a purchase of the software after the trial expires. It is a tried and true marketing strategy that has been successful for many developers for years. However, some companies are concerned that handing over a free trial license offers another avenue for hackers to gain illegal access to the program forever.

Take the case of STPL Global, a pioneer of payroll solutions in Africa. Sales of their top 5 global Paywings payroll software skyrocketed when they introduced a downloadable version along with a 30 day free trial of the full blown version.

“I would attribute Paywings huge global success due to its easy availability. Customers are able to download the software freely, use it for 30 days and then decide to buy,” said STPL Global CEO, Palash Bagchi in a post on ABnewswire.

However, Bagchi laments that its high availability and enormous popularity of the software have also made it a target for license cracks that have eroded income and made the company rethink the free trial business model.

“Software piracy is a clear deterrent towards doing ethical business. While we are trying to create a transparency by providing a free download of the software, software pirates are only contributing to demotivate us. We have had significant investments into developing Paywings, and due to this piracy we sometimes feel that the earlier Enterprise model was better,” he said.

Is piracy of the trial version a common problem? Perform a Google search on “hacking free trial software” and you’ll find links like Use any Trial Software Forever, computer hacks: trial version of any software to full version and How to Hack Software & Run a Trial Program Forever. You can even watch a How to Hack Program trials video on YouTube. So, I would have to say that the hacking of the trial version license as a means of pirating the software forever is a clear and present threat.

If offering trial licenses is the best monetization strategy for your software, then you shouldn’t let the threat of piracy deter you from achieving maximum revenues. The key, of course, is to implement a secure licensing scheme to protect the trial license from hacking and illegal copying just as you should for the full commercial version. Security is a critical step in the development process, no matter what business model you choose.

If you would like to learn more about secure licensing, take a look at the CodeMeter anti-piracy solution and the full range of options for easily integrating maximum software protection into your application.


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