How To Copy Protect Flash SWF?
A commonly asked question is "how can I protect my Flash
videos? " and there are a few approaches to Flash protection,
some of which are secure while others are merely a scam to
rope in ignorant people. The main difference between the solutions
that are really secure and the ones that aren't is that anything
relying on Flash for protection can never be properly secured.
Copy Protecting Flash Or Using Flash To Copy Protect?
The first image protection solutions used image encryption
inside a security applet, and because it prevented right click
image saves many made the assumption that wrapping an image
in an applet provided suitable protection for a image. Well
it did for mouse saves, but that's where it ended because
unless the image was encrypted it could be downloaded directly
from the file link, the parameter in the applet code to record
the exact image location on the web site.
So when Flash was released and it was found that by wrapping
an image in Flash that it was protected from mouse saves,
so it too was promoted as a form of copy protection for images
to the unsuspecting. Now it's not known if those who create
and promote useless copy protection solutions are actually
deceiving anyone intentionally or whether they are deceiving
themselves through ignorance, but not too long ago LockLizard
was inundating the web with propaganda about how they are
a real big deal in the copy protection industry, yet they
released a solution for copy protecting Flash that didn't
even work. In fact the feature that they were relying on was
pulled from the Flash API because it was found to be deceiving
to many people who were ignorant of the fact not everyone
in the world uses the same web browser.
The Limitations Of Using Flash To Protect Anything
Flash used to provide an option for preventing Printscreen,
but it was doomed to failure because it used code that only
worked in the Internet Explorer web browser, and Flash being
based on ActionScript which has the same restricted security
at system level which is where one needs to be before thinking
about manipulation of the clipboard.
But Flash is supported across all computer platforms, and
it can be used to create a variety of apps that will run on
most devices including iToys and mobile phones. Unfortunately
it can never be used to properly secure a file or provide
copy protection that can't be easily undone. In fact not too
long ago a new startup in the copy protection industry known
as WatchDox promoted a secure document service using Flash
to wrap the "attached" files. Users could send a
message with file attachments and to view the message the
recipient needed to log into a web portal and read it online.
Surprisingly this company had some success mainly because
those evaluating it could only use Internet Explorer in-house,
and if ever those people sent a message outside of their company,
then it would have been most embarrassing because there was
no "copy protection" at all. Startups like this
are more interested in manipulating public share investors
with propaganda rather than real applications. They come and
often go just as quickly.
On it's own Flash cannot prevent anyone from using Printscreen
or screen capture and it's here that there needs to be a reality
check because only on Windows is such copy control possible.
So anyone wanting to protect media from copy has to decide
whether for the sake of such a small minority of users with
Mac and Linux operating systems, should they forego copy protection
and risk their livelihood, or forget about that infinitesimal
minority of 5% and get on with it.
A recent survey showed that many modern comic book publishers
are using Flash to present their comics. They are only available
for reading online for about $5 or as hard copy for $45. The
comic books cannot be downloaded, and they cannot be read
locally. Some free comics can be downloaded and they are using
a variety of e-readers and PDF but without protection.
When using Flash to protect and display anything online, if
they using a raw URL for the file resource then it's not secure
and any site spidering software can grab all such files. If
the Flash player is using an encrypted URL protected by user
session or using an encrypted/wrapped file then they will
need to be domain locked and obfuscated. Domain locking of
media was first developed by ArtistScope and is most useful
for ensuring that content can only be used on the domain for
which it was intended. However it is possible to exploit domain
lock, especially with Flash, by setting up a web site and
DNS for the domain in an intranet. Anyone with Windows Server
or a free distribution of Linux can do this quite easily.
Real Copy Protection For Flash
Flash can be decompiled and it's powerless to protect even
itself. Even it's own encryption requires that the decryption
key be stored inside itself thus making it most insecure.
But Flash is a fantastic medium for embodying other media
and enhancing its display with features like flip-book and
magnification, panorama effects and so on, so let it do what
it's best for, and leave the copy protection to a more robust
and impenetrable solution. Also, encrypting files and obfuscating
them with domain lock is not an exciting chore especially
when you have to do it all over again just to update its contents.
So the ideal solution is to use an additional and separate
application for the copy protection part.
Copy Protecting Flash For Online View
For the copy protection of Flash while viewed online, from
a web site using a web browser, there are two (2) most secure
solutions available. Each solution provides copy protection
from all methods of copy and save including Printscreen and
screen capture software.
Copy Protecting Flash Online Using A Web Browser Plugin
This method utilizes a web browser plugin to apply a layer
of control preventing copy and capture of a web page's content
while in view. The solution is simple to deploy as all it
requires is some html code added to the web page, and it can
be used on absolutely any type of web page hosted on any type
of web server. Protection is most effective because if a user
doesn't have the plugin already installed they are redirected
to download and install it. Only when the plugin is installed
and active can a user view the copy protected page. CopySafe
Web will prevent copy of a web page and anything displayed
on that page whether it be images, Flash, PDF or video. For
evaluation please see the
CopySafe Web demos online.
Copy Protecting Flash Online Using A Secure Web Browser
While using a plugin to copy protect will do the job, due
to the inherent nature of web browsers the situation cannot
be absolutely secure like it can be when using a secure web
browser specially designed to protect web content instead
of exploiting it. The ASPS Web Reader is the only solution
of this caliber and absolutely all content and media that
can be displayed in the browser's window is most securely
protected from all manner of copy without any threat of data
leakage or cache retrieval. For evaluation you can
download the ASPS Web Reader and explore the demo
links from its start page. This solution is most ideal for
online tutorials that use PDF and Flash.
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