[ISN] Norton Antivirus product activation cracked

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Tue Sep 23 2003 - 22:33:23 PDT

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    By Jan Libbenga
    Posted: 22/09/2003
    Software giant Symantec last month announced that it will add product 
    activation technology to all of its consumer products, starting with 
    Norton Antivirus 2004. The idea is to prevent large-scale piracy 
    operations from thieves who counterfeit Symantec programs and offer 
    them to customers on the Web. The company estimates at least 3.6 
    million bogus copies of its programs are sold annually. 
    The measure may help alleviate the counterfeit problem, but the 
    product activation itself is not exactly waterproof. The Register had 
    no problem of finding a key generator on the Web and installing a full 
    version of Norton Antivirus 2004 on several PCs without Symantec 
    knowing it. 
    When you buy the product on a CD, you have to plug in a software key 
    printed on the CD sleeve. From there, a wizard checks the hardware 
    configuration, including the hard drive serial number and 
    Based on this information, the software creates an alphanumeric code 
    and transmits this code to Symantec through the internet. Otherwise, 
    the wizard prompts you to call an automated phone service to complete 
    Here is where the activation fails miserably. The key generator will 
    not only provide you with a serial number, but also with a final 
    unlock code. No need to call an automated phone service either. 
    The key generator won't work with the trial versions, only with the 
    full program which we located on a murky Russian website. 
    As is the case with Microsoft's product activation, the technology is 
    based upon a key generation algorithm rather than a fixed database of 
    real CD keys. All the key generator seems to be doing is reproducing 
    this logic. 
    Other more obtrusive product activation techniques may prove 
    unpopular. Earlier this year Intuit dropped its product activation 
    policy after complaints from customers, who had to provide some basic 
    information about their PC before they could use its TurboTax product.
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