StarForce

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StarForce
Star force logo.png
Type Copy protection
Website www.star-force.com

StarForce Technologies is a Russian software developer with headquarters in Moscow.

The main activities: information security, protection against unauthorized copying, modification and analysis (decompilation).

Products[edit]

StarForce MMOG
StarForce MMOG is designed to protect MMOs from threats including (cheats, bots) and unauthorised copying.
StarForce C++ Obfuscator
Obfuscator is client-side software designed to protect source code written in C/C++ by obfuscating (transforming) the text in the source code files in several ways.
StarForce Crypto
Crypto protects binary code by attempting to prevent other software from analysing a protected program's actions.
StarForce ProActive
ProActive is a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for software intended to be distributed over the Internet.
StarForce ProActive for Business
ProActive for Business is similar to ProActive, but designed to secure business applications running on a “thin client-server”, ”fat client-server”, or stand-alone application system.
StarForce ProActive for Traders
ProActive for Traders is designed to protect trading algorithms (including MQL scripts) based on MetaTrader electronic trader platform against copying, analysis and modification.
StarForce Disc
The first product of StarForce Technologies, StarForce Disc checks for an original physical medium (CD or DVD) in the computer's optical drive. StarForce Disc attempts to detect burned discs and virtual discs (emulated by programs such as DAEMON Tools), so that an original factory-pressed disc is required. Without an original disc present, the software refuses to run.
StarForce Universal
Universal combines StarForce Disc and StarForce ProActive, so that software can be activated online; the physical disc is then no longer required to run the software.
StarForce Audio/Video
Audio/Video copy-protects audio and video files by binding the files either to a specific computer or a specific disc.
StarForce Content
Content is similar to Audio/Video, but used for several text and image file formats; see www.sfcontent.com
StarForce E-m@il
E-m@il is a free, secure email service; see Sfletter.com

Security[edit]

When StarForce 3.0 was released, it initially provided extremely strong protection - the StarForce 3.0-protected game Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was uncracked for 424 days.[1] It also marked a significant step up in the effort required to reverse engineer it.[2]

In March 2006 the warez group RELOADED released a vast array of documentation about how StarForce 3 works. Alongside many technical details, it revealed how several resource-intensive procedures were implemented, such as virtual file system and functions protected within a complex virtual machine.[3][4]

Driver installation[edit]

StarForce 3.0 has received criticism for installing its own device driver onto computers along with the protected product,[5] which is generally not uninstalled along with the software[citation needed] (Peter Jackson's King Kong being one exception). Colin McRae: DIRT, however, both asks the player for permission to install the drivers and includes a help file with information on how to remove them.

Lite[edit]

StarForce 3.0 drivers are installed with certain older game demos, freeware and downloadable games, like TrackMania Nations. Their presence is intended to prevent crackers from using demo executables to help break retail executables (as the two will usually be quite similar).

Driverless[edit]

Currently (May 2014) the use of StarForce solutions became much easier for end users due to "driverless" security technology and binding to a computer. The company also is developing cloud services to protect content and e-mail that are designed to simplify the process of information protection used in everyday life.

Clients[edit]

StarForce’s customers include Russian Railways, Corel, 1C, Mail.ru, Aeroflot, SUN InBev Russia, AMD Labs, ATC International, MediaHouse, Russobit M, New Disc, Buka, Snowball, 2Play, GFI, CENEGA, Akella.[citation needed]

Community response[edit]

Some gamers have advocated boycotts of games or publishers known to use StarForce.[6] These gamers claim that StarForce software causes system instability and crashes, and that Protection Technology refuses to address the damage their software causes. In 2006, a $5 million lawsuit was filed against Ubisoft for using StarForce in their games on the allegations that StarForce compromises PC security,[7] slows down PCs, causes crashes and even damages optical drives.[8] However, the case was dropped two years later due to lack of evidence.[8]

Ubisoft decided to investigate the extent of the StarForce boycott and ran a poll on their forums, the outcome of which was against the use of StarForce.[9] As a result, (along with general discontent on the web[10][11]), in Heroes of Might and Magic V and GTR2, StarForce 3.0 was replaced by SecuROM.

Removal of StarForce drivers[edit]

Uninstalling a StarForce-protected game does not remove the StarForce driver from the system. The StarForce SDK provides functions for implementors to remove the driver during uninstall of the game, but is not automatically carried out. An official utility program exists to remove the StarForce driver from the system.[12] The program is hosted at a third-party website with a link on the official StarForce website.[13] Instructions for manual removal have also been provided by the community.[14]

Starting from StarForce 4.0 it includes a removal service. This service automatically uninstalls StarForce drivers after StarForce protected product is uninstalled. After the drivers are uninstalled, the service uninstalls itself as well.

Controversy[edit]

On January 1, 2006, Boing Boing claimed that StarForce was malware, mentioning several problems claimed to be associated with the protection system, including disk drive performance degradation and weakening of operating system security and stability.[15] Tweakguides subsequently countered Boing Boing's claim, stating that there is no evidence of StarForce doing anything harmful.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Todd Ciolek (2009-06-16). "Interview: The Return Of... StarForce?". Gamasutra. Everybody remembers Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It held for 422 days without a piracy crack. This world record for AAA-class games is still unbeaten and no other solutions managed to make a game last longer. 
  2. ^ "StarForce Game Copy Protections". GameBurnWorld. Retrieved 2010-03-12. StarForce Professional v3.0 has been released recently and there is no known way to successfully backup games protected with this version. 
  3. ^ http://www.glop.org/files/rld-sfrt.rar
  4. ^ "STARFORCE.RE.TOOLS.READNFO-RELOADED". scenenotice.org. 2006-03-29. Here is our little contribution to the reverse-engineering community. 
  5. ^ Nate Anderson. "Is your game's copy protection system frying your machine?". Ars Technica. 
  6. ^ "Boycott StarForce website". 
  7. ^ "$5M Class Action Lawsuit Against Ubisoft for Starforce". 
  8. ^ a b c "PC Game Piracy Examined: Page 9". 
  9. ^ Smith, Luke (2006-04-14). "Ubisoft Drops StarForce DRM". Extremetech.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  10. ^ "Starforce software removed from TrackMania: United". 
  11. ^ "Ubisoft Dumps Starforce (Note the heated commentary following the actual story)". 
  12. ^ "StarForce Drivers Removal". Retrieved 2008-04-03. StarForce ... has granted a sole right to distribute the StarForce Removal Tool utility to www.onlinesecurity-on.com. 
  13. ^ "Official driver removal page". 
  14. ^ "How can I get rid of StarForce?". Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  15. ^ "Anti-copying malware installs itself with dozens of games". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 

External links[edit]