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CD image manipulation

Posted on 2006-04-16
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Hi
I'm asking this here, since I can't find a more appropriate TA.
I've heard about some techniques to manipulate the image of a CD (using a hex editor) to change the name of a folder in a way that it contains some illegal characters (like slash and backslash). I've seen the result. You can't copy or open that folder, while some programs can do.
So lets break my question down to parts:
1) How can I do that with a Hex editor? Are there online tutorials etc you can suggest?
2) Is it the best method to "lock" a CD from being copied? Or are there better ways to copy-protect a CD?
Please advise
Huji
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Question by:huji
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16465975
1) the simplest way to create an unopenable directory name is add a space in at the front, or a #255 character, which is an unprintable.  This will stop windows and DOS from accessing the folder, but there are a few sneaky ways around this which I will not discuss on a public site.

2)  That doesnt amount to good copy protection.  The classic CD copy protection is to write a track at the end of the CD in a non-standard format, like a track format that is non-ISO compliant.  There you put the main data file that you want to read and decompress.  So when your CD opens, the file name is hidden from the user as it is packed into that "bad" track.  You have an .EXE that is designed to read this data in the special non-ISO format, and decode it, then it will play or make the real program available.  

This is foolproof copy protection, because, unless a person can access that "bad" track with special software and reverse debug your code to see what the encryption method you used, the key data on the CD is not accessible to anything but the EXE you engineered to read it.  This is a LOT of work to do it that way, and you will probably alienate a lot of people buying the CD, if they cant make their own safety backup.
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by:sof_combat
ID: 16466091
What Is The Reason You Need To Protect The CD?

As Far As Securing Anything 100%, Its Pretty Slim If You Can Get To It Someone With The Right Amount Of Knowledge Can Also.


If You Want To Hide The Data (Not Extremely Secure)
You Can Use UltraISO And Make The Directory Hidden. It Will Be Hidden From Windows (Even If You Have Show All Hidden Folders)
You Wont Be Able To Copy The CD, Even With UltraISO, You Will Need A Program Like ISOBuster To Get To The Hidden Folder And
Extract It.
http://www.ezbsystems.com/ultraiso/


You Can Also Use A Program Like WinRAR, or WinZIP And Password Protect A Folder (Then It Needs To Be Extracted)
Use A AlphaNumeric Password Over 10 Characters.
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by:huji
ID: 16479675
And what about changing the folder name in a way that it contains forbidden corrocters like slash?
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16479884
you can manipulate the folder names, but people with PC knowledge and the right program can get around that, at least I can.  If you want to do it simple, just do that, maybe 50% of people wont know how to get around it.  But remember, you windows applications wont be able to get files from the directory either.  As long as it is just data you want to stay on the CD and not get on anyones hard disk, this might be all you need.  Try it and see.
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by:huji
ID: 16480966
Perhaps it would be worthful to use a combination of them?
What other methods do you suggest for copy protecting a software CD?
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by:huji
ID: 16486375
To clarify, we are speaking about software CDs.
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16492872
Basically, a CD extraction program like IsoEdit or IsoBuster, or any one of a dozen tools can get everything off a CD, even hidden directories and corrupted file names.  Also, you can use diskcopy programs like XXCOPY to copy files with corrupt names to the hard disk.  Anyone with any determination to save the cost of extra CD copies can do it.  The only way I know of is to write non-standard sector formats to final tracks on a CD, and these are simply not seen by any tools except ones specifically made to decode the non-standard tracks and get the data off.  They exist, and many people have them, but the average person who buys a CD program wont have them, therefore it is the only "foolrpoof" method, so to speak.
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by:huji
ID: 16497045
Now, I have heard that some tools like CloneCD can copy a CD to a new blank CD, bit-by-bit. Is it true, and if yes, doesn't it mean that it can copy the non-standard bits as well?
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 16499122
No, non standard formatting goes beyond any CD copy tool, it is special software, used to require a special controller board to do it, no longer used.
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by:huji
ID: 16502942
And we don't have such a bit-wise CD copying tool, yes?
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Accepted Solution

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scrathcyboy earned 2000 total points
ID: 16503405
Read these first -

http://cd-burning-software-review.toptenreviews.com/cd-encryption.html
http://www.cd-writer.com/cd_dvd_copy_protection.html
http://www.pcquest.com/content/mac/100050126.asp
http://home.netcom.com/~tlindner/CDC.html
http://www.blindwrite.com/faq.htm
http://novadisc.net/blogger/?page_id=12

Then these are extra reading -

http://www.summationtechnology.com/hexalock.htm
http://www.gameburnworld.com/cdprotectionutilities.htm
http://www.digitalriver.com/v2.0-img/operations/srealms/site/spassport01.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4866
http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_protections.shtml
----------------------------

In the end, copy protection is self defeating.  Of all the companies that employed it 10 years ago ...
100% of them are out of business now, there is no one who survived or didn't adapt to customer needs.

So the conclusion is -- if your program is "too good" to release to the public, no one will want it, and you will go out of business. That is the proven economics of the CP market for over 10 years.

Good luck, and see you later.
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