Crackproof Your Software Book Review
Crackproof Your Software
Primarily as a Open Source developer, this book is not the most obvious choice for review. This is due to the book's main topic being how to protect your software against crackers and would-be software pirates, how these individuals circumvent any copy protection and what can be done to counter-act these attempts.
Of course, as a developer of free software I am usually trying to promote the liberal copying and modification of my software. However, I enjoy reading most books in the realm of computing and technical know how so I thought that I would take the plunge and read it anyway.
Aim of the book
This book tries to make the average developer more aware of the ever increasing problem of piracy in today's computing world. It takes the reader through a twisting maze of cracking methods, their counter measures and so forth. It provides well written, working examples to show exactly how each counter cracking method works, so that the reader might gain a better insight into the methods a cracker might use to circumnavigate any protection written in by the lowly software developer.
The book also provides information about programs that are already available to help you protect your software. For each program the author performs a run down of what the program offers in way of protection, how effective they are at what they claim to do and whether or not the average cracker has a hard time trying to defeat the protection provided.
There's a free CD! I don't know about you, but when a book has a free CD it usually spells several hours running through the contents trying to find something interesting. The CD with this book was no exception, and whilst the contents may not be as "fun" as come with other books (e.g. game development books) the content is certainly an invaluable asset to understanding the topics covered.
In the book there are many code samples, which the thought of reading through at first glance may seem a little tedious. However, this is not a problem as the CD contains all the example code used within the book along with pre-compiled executable for the reader to test to their heart's content (unfortunately this is Win32 only). While free CDs are always a good thing, a book must also read well or the reader will never reach the end of the book and be in a position to check it out.
At first I was dubious as to whether or not "Crackproof Your Software" would achieve the level of a "good, compelling read" due to the topic being covered, but after several pages I was pleasantly surprised. This book is an excellent read. If you are interested in the topic of the book or the field surrounding software protection then it will certainly hold your attention.
So what's bad?
Which leads me nicely on to the bad parts of the book, which there admittedly very few. My only criticism of this book is the possible over use of "pre-packaged" content. At some points the book seems more like a book reviewing a selection of software than one trying to educate on the topic of software protection. However, it isn't difficult to stick these sections out because even they are a compelling read due to the author's in-depth knowledge of each piece of software and his regular explanations of the abilities and problems related to each of them. In my honest opinion, the main problem with this book is the over use of code samples.
Portions of code can be incredibly useful when attempting to show how a particular system works - after all, what is better than explaining a system to somebody in their own language? (In this case the software developer and the language they are most used to) The problem arises towards the end of the book, especially in the last few chapters when the author turns onto implementation details of the various cracking counter measures discussed in the book. Which while this is reasonable as programmers will find this useful, these sections of the book lead to a halt to the previously fluid reading material as concentrating on large portions of assembly code is difficult and is definitely anything but an easy read.
I believe that this book is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in the area. However, I do not believe it is a book that would need to be read more than once. This is not a problem though, due to the book's large selection of code examples and an accurate index any counter measure or code sample that is needed can be found with very little searching and can even be taken directly from the CD.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- A comprehensive guide to crack proofing your software
The Bad - Cons
- I felt there were few too many code samples to provide a smooth read
The Ugly - Issues
The Verdict - Opinion
An interesting read for any software developer, though at points reads similar to an Encyclopedia with perhaps too much concentration on sample code. A good future reference book if any cracking counter measures are required. An interesting read and certainly a reference book for the future.