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How Not to Steal Software From Us

Posted on: September 2nd, 2006 by Craig Rairdin 13 Comments

Most of you have probably never noticed that when you click on one of the download links on your download page, there’s a long link to the setup file there. Most of you don’t care — you just want to download the software. Some people, however, see a link to the setup file and think, “Hmmm… I wonder if I could download other files by just modifying this URL?” That’s when the fun begins. :-)

The URLs on the download page look something like this:

http://www.laridiansales.com/files/.../PBCE3001/pocketbible/program/PBSetupPktPC.exe

It’s pretty obvious if a person were to change the product code (PBCE3001) and file name (PBSetupPktPC.exe) he or she should be able to download any product they want — for free. You’d think since we’re selling Bible software that never happens. You’d be wrong.

When someone tries messing with one of these URLs they’ll get a message telling them what’s wrong (“The filename requested does not match the product”) and telling them to forward the message to Tech Support for help. What they don’t know is that I get a copy of that error message delivered to me by email before they even see it. So we know they’re there and we know what they’re doing.

I had some fun the other day watching a person try to get a free PocketBible upgrade. They tried fourteen different file names within seven minutes, then another an hour later. Each time, I received an email containing the URL they were trying to access and information disclosed by their browser that can help me figure out who they are.

It’s real interesting what you can find out when you have just a few pieces of information. This person, for example, was connected via DSL (Bell South) from work (tsk tsk … using your work time to order personal software!) but it’s probably OK because this person owns the business (bought it from their parents a few years ago). And I probably shouldn’t be too hard on them because they’ve gone through some legal hassles with the local government recently and have been forced to relocate. Times are tough, but business seems to be thriving, so good for them!

A few years back we were using a different security system and had someone actually discover a way to get software for free. We immediately detected the intrusion and even let them take some stuff so we could see how they were doing it. Once we plugged the hole we started doing some investigating. We were able to quickly find out that the person was logging in from work. They worked for a big accounting firm in an overseas office. We contacted them by email and explained that we knew what was going on, and that we didn’t want to have to go to their employer to shut them down. This person was very apologetic and quickly paid for everything they had taken.

Our would-be burglar last week wasn’t as smart and never made it past our security. A couple hours later they placed an order for the upgrade.

Hopefully this won’t cause a bunch of you to decide to try to break in. I just wanted to let you know that a) it’s not as easy as it looks, and b) if you try, you should smile, because we’re watching you. :-)

13 Responses

  1. K Redding says:

    It’s just amazing. Maybe they should purchase (and read) a “life application” bible. :)

  2. ashleigh says:

    Hey that link you posted 404’s, do you think you could fix it ;)

  3. That’s left as an exercise for the reader. :-)

  4. PK says:

    I am so please with Laridian software. I cannot believe anyone would steal Biblical resourses and not feel convicted. Also, thank you for putting more free resources in the order form.

  5. Robert K. says:

    I was very surprised that so many people try to steal the bible! I’m glad to know that you are able to prevent it from happening.

  6. Keith de Laet says:

    That’s perfect! I’m sure that the people who hack in and steal whatever they want are also the first to complain when new products are not being developed because the developers are diverted to security instead.

  7. Mike says:

    WWJD?

    Knowing how things are going to play out in the bigger picture of life, he might look the other way knowing that they will ultimately benefit and grow from the resource they have stolen – and later – after repenting – sow back 100 times the amount they stole from you – maybe back directly to you, or possibility another ministry, their church, etc…

    Of course none of us want to have our property stolen – it’s wrong by both God’s law and man’s laws…

    btw, I am not typing this as a clueless business person. I ran my own business for 5 years, I had people steal from me, and I know what it is to loose revenue. Sure, it’s easy for me to type this, as it’s not my revenue being lost, but I am just trying to use this event as a springboard for us to try and look down from the 40,000 foot view and remember that God is using everything to his purpose and glory…

    Last thought, this could be a great way for someone to learn about the grace of God…. You could contact the person and explain that you know what has happened, point them to scripture, explain how grace works, and explain that you are not asking for them to purchase what they have stolen, you won’t press charges, etc – but you would ask them to prayerfully consider what they have done and let them take the action they feel is necessary…

    On a personal note, I have bought your products and they have changed my life. I started using MyBible on a palm Tungsten e – and now use it on a Treo 650.
    For years I have tried to be in the Word daily, and struggled to incorporate it into my every day life. Since becoming a user of your products, the amount of time I spend in God’s Word has grown by at least 500% or more. I now take advantage of many of the 2-3 minute periods that pop up in the day where you find yourself waiting for something – instead of waiting idle– I use that time to read. The best part is that being in Word is now a lifestyle for me, not a short one-time shot in the morning, never to be picked up again until the next morning.

    You are doing a fantastic work for the Kingdom of God and with iPods being as pervasive as they are, I can only see your market share growing at a very rapid rate…

    Well enough blabbing, I sort of got off topic – in summary – sure, stealing is wrong – but there are times when it makes sense for us to look the other way…

  8. Mike:

    “…it’s wrong by both God’s law and man’s laws… WWJD? … he might look the other way.”

    Hmmm… That must be a different “J” than the one I know. I’ve never known Jesus to look the other way in the face of sin. (I know what you’re thinking — the woman caught in adultery. But he didn’t condone her sin — in the absence of any accusers he told her to go and sin no more.)

    My point wasn’t so much that we’ve laid a trap for those who would steal from us. The point was simply that these deeds that are seemingly done in darkness are actually done in the light. I’m trying to save people a little embarrassment. And, mostly, to share some trivia with you about how our system works (we have to write these blog articles about something).

    I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying our software. If we just let everyone steal it from us we would have been out of business before you had a chance to discover us. Rather than being all super-spiritual letting people rob us blind and drive us out of business, we prefer to run our business according to sound biblical and business principles so that we’ll be around to continue to give you great software for years to come.

    Thanks for your comments.

  9. Mike says:

    Yeah, “look the other way” didn’t quite capture what I was trying to say – I was trying to convey more of how we deal with sin when we encounter it.

    Just goes to show you that some people’s brains (mainly mine) – don’t work as well after a 16 hour day ended by Greek class … :)

    Again, thank you for your work.

  10. yjraphael says:

    I went to your website because it was the first one listed in my web search. I am looking for a website where I can read the Holy Bible online. How dare you complain about someone elses dishonesty when you’ve got it set up to DISHONESTLY have your website listed FIRST, and it SAYS – DISHONESLY – that this is, and I quote, “FREE”, liars.
    I am not trained in computer tech – just a civilian, not a geek – so there’s no way, in the foreseeable future at least, that I could DISHONESTLY do anything on the web such as take your software unpaid for. But a word to the wise: if you are dishonest you WILL have dishonesty leave its ugly footprints in your life somehow. I suggest you clean up your act.

  11. We don’t control where our Web site is listed on the search sites. We advertise on some of the search sites based on keywords that match our products, but even then we don’t directly control whether or not we’re listed first among the sponsored links.

    I did a Google search for “read holy bible online” and our site didn’t come up within the first 100 hits. I don’t know what you were searching for, so I’m not sure how you ended up with our site listed first. If you are specific in what you’re searching for (i.e. “read holy bible online” instead of “free bible”) you’ll get better results. I tried several searches related to reading the Bible online and downloading a free Bible and in no case did our site come up first.

    We do have a free version of the Bible for Pocket PC and Palm OS on our site. You can get our demo which includes the complete King James Version. Easton’s Bible Dictionary and Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary are also available at no charge for use in the demo product.

    So I think it’s safe to conclude that we haven’t done any of the dishonest things of which you accused us. I can understand how a person with limited technical understanding could be confused about how the Web and the search engines work, so no harm done. Thanks for your interest in our products.

  12. Werner Gimpel says:

    Hi,

    sometimes i think christian dealers are paranoid and bored :)

    thanks

    Werner

  13. Mike Welch says:

    Well, this is an old blog, but it hits on something I’ve been meaning to thank everyone there at Laridian for and fail to get around to doing. So here ’tis…

    Thank…nay, God bless you for NOT requiring me to enter a blasted registration key every time I install the product. As a developer for the Pocket PC platform and until a recent layoff, a developer on the iPAQ team here in Houston, I switch devices frequently. I have stopped registering shareware over the years simply because of the hassle and headache of having to fumble with entering often hideously complicated product keys every time I switch devices.

    I understand the thinking behind such “protection”, but anyone with even a little computer history under his belt knows that if you really want it you can probably find a keyless version somewhere in hyperspace. Such keys are no more a guarantee of theft prevention than the locks on our very doors. The best it can do is keep honest people honest. And, for those of us who are old enough to remember when Microsoft was the underdog, there were lessons back then about copy protection that the software biz seems to have forgotten entirely: copy protection encourages piracy. Oddly, it was Microsoft who was one of the companies who stood firm on this issue and refused to copy protect their floppies on the basis that it would cause undue hassles for their paying customers. They were still a comparitively small company then, and by golly, they made out pretty good over the years thereafter. I say ‘oddly’ because it was Microsoft who at least popularized if not reintroduced the idea of copy protection with their product activation scheme.

    Well, with all that said, I just wanted to drop a quick THANKS for not putting that level of distrust into your Pocket Bible products. Furthermore, as I keep Pocket Bible on an SD card and typically copy it to a file store along with a few other “critical apps” when switching Pocket PCs, thanks also for not requiring that some components be registered with the OS before the app will run (e.g., OCX files and regsvr32) AND thanks for not placing your code to generate the necessary registry keys in the setup app as so many developers are doing these days. This is one of the reasons I stick with Laridian. The code is pretty lean and quick even on the slower Pocket PCs of a few years ago, and only better on the newer ones. No “you don’t have the .NYET framework version 10d installed” errors, no “missing mybob.ocx” bombouts, it just works.

    This is extra work in some regards, and could be considered extra risk with regards to software protection. I realize this, and it’s one of the reasons I recommend Laridian to others, and sometimes even buy them a copy myself.

    And lastly, with regards to breaking a “thou shall not”, I’ll just throw in that Christ did “not come to call the righteous, but sinners [mt 9:13]”. This makes me a clear shoe-in to The Kingdom (^.^)

    Mike

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