CA2025434C - Method for protecting against the unauthorized use of software in a computer network environment - Google Patents

Method for protecting against the unauthorized use of software in a computer network environment

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Publication number
CA2025434C
CA2025434C CA 2025434 CA2025434A CA2025434C CA 2025434 C CA2025434 C CA 2025434C CA 2025434 CA2025434 CA 2025434 CA 2025434 A CA2025434 A CA 2025434A CA 2025434 C CA2025434 C CA 2025434C
Authority
CA
Grant status
Grant
Patent type
Prior art keywords
license
token
nl
tok
server
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Expired - Fee Related
Application number
CA 2025434
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
CA2025434A1 (en )
Inventor
John Richard Corbin
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Oracle America Inc
Original Assignee
Oracle America Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Grant date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F21/00Security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F21/10Protecting distributed programs or content, e.g. vending or licensing of copyrighted material
    • G06F21/105Tools for software license management or administration, e.g. managing licenses at corporate level
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F21/00Security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F21/10Protecting distributed programs or content, e.g. vending or licensing of copyrighted material
    • G06F21/12Protecting executable software
    • G06F21/121Restricting unauthorised execution of programs
    • G06F21/125Restricting unauthorised execution of programs by manipulating the program code, e.g. source code, compiled code, interpreted code, machine code
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L63/00Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security
    • H04L63/08Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security for supporting authentication of entities communicating through a packet data network
    • H04L63/0807Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security for supporting authentication of entities communicating through a packet data network using tickets, e.g. Kerberos
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2211/00Indexing scheme relating to details of data-processing equipment not covered by groups G06F3/00 - G06F13/00
    • G06F2211/007Encryption, En-/decode, En-/decipher, En-/decypher, Scramble, (De-)compress
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2221/00Indexing scheme relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/07Indexing scheme relating to G06F21/10, protecting distributed programs or content
    • G06F2221/0757Licence
    • G06F2221/0773Recurrent authorisation
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2221/00Indexing scheme relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/21Indexing scheme relating to G06F21/00 and subgroups addressing additional information or applications relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/2101Auditing as a secondary aspect
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2221/00Indexing scheme relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/21Indexing scheme relating to G06F21/00 and subgroups addressing additional information or applications relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/2135Metering
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2221/00Indexing scheme relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/21Indexing scheme relating to G06F21/00 and subgroups addressing additional information or applications relating to security arrangements for protecting computers, components thereof, programs or data against unauthorised activity
    • G06F2221/2137Time limited access, e.g. to a computer or data
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L2463/00Additional details relating to network architectures or network communication protocols for network security covered by H04L63/00
    • H04L2463/101Additional details relating to network architectures or network communication protocols for network security covered by H04L63/00 applying security measures for digital rights management

Abstract

The present invention provides to the software application the verification and license check out functions which are normally performed by a license server. The encrypted license information is contained in a license token, and is stored in the database controlled by the license server. In contrast to the prior art where the license server either grants or denies the request after verifying the user's credentials, the license server in the preferred embodiment of the present invention finds the correct license token for the software application and transmits the license token to the licensing library.
The license access module attached to the application decodes the licensing token. Routines in the licensing library coupled to the software application verify the license information before checking out the license and updating the license token. The license access module then encodes the updated license token before returning it to the license server. Because the verification and check out function of a license token are performed by a software application, the software application rather than the license server becomes the point of attack by unauthorized users. Reverse engineering the license access module is less rewarding than attacking the license server because the license access module reveals the contents of a small fraction of a database of licenses.

Description

- 2~92$q34 BACKGROUND OF THF INVENTION

1. FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a method for protecting against 5 tho unauthorized use of a software application in a computer network environment.

2. ART ~ACKGROUND
A computer network is typically an interconnection of machines or 10 agents over links or cables. The open access characteristics of a computer network presents opportunities for the unauthorized copying of software, thus eroding the licensing revenue potential of software developers. Traditionally, either the entire network must be licensed (commonly referred to as a site license), or each node where the software is run must be licensed (commonly 15 referred to as a node license). A node refers to a single machine, agent or system in a computer network. A license is an authorization given by a software developer to a customer to use a software application in a specific manner.

A site license lets all users at a designated location or network use the software application, regardless of their position on the network. This Slat-fee approach is an overkill for a low usage software application. A node licsnse not only ties a software application to a particular machine in a net~vork, but also is not cost effective for the infrequent use of a software ~rp"~ on. See, for example, U.S. Patent No. 4,688,169. Furthermore, if new users of licensed nodes wish to use the software ~PF' cation, they are often - required to purchase additional licenses.

An alternative to a si1e license or a node license is the concept of a concurrent usage license. A concurrent usage license restricts the number of users allowed to use a software application at any given time, regardless of their location on the network. Just as renters check out available copies of a ~,~

...... ~

movie video from a video rental store, users on a network check out a software application from an agent on a first-come-first-serve basis. Thus, a concurrent usage license charges a fee for the use of a software application proportional to its actual use.

Methods to license a software application for concurrent use in a network environment are currently offered by Highland Software, Inc. and Apollo Computer, inc. See, M. Olson and P. Levine, ~Concurrent Access Licensingn, Unix Review, September 1988, Vol. 6, No. 9. In general, the 10 license for a software application is stored in a database controlled by a license server. A license server is a program that not only stores the license, but also verifies the user's credentials before checking out the license to the authenticated user. To protect against the authorized use, these methods to license concurrent usage rely on secured communications such as 15 public/private key encryption. Under public/private key encryption, each userof the system has two keys, one of which is generally known to the public, and the other which is private. The private transformation using the private key is related to the public one using the public key but the private key cannot be computationally determined from the public key. See Denning, D., 20 Cryptography and Data Security, Addison-Wesley, 1982. The encryption key is hidden in the license server to encrypt the database of licenses. Well designed public/private key encryption schemes are difficult to crack, especially if the license server is located in a trusted environment. A trusted environment is one whose access is limited to users having the proper 25 credentials. However, a license server is more likely to be located at a customer's site and hence in an hostile environment. It follows that the licenseserver is vulnerable to sophisticated intruders. Once the private key is decrypted, all sensitive information on the license server such as licenses are compromised.

-It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a more secure method to protect against the unauthorized use of software in a concurrent use licensing environment.

-- 3~

202~434 SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides to the software application the v~rification and license check out functions which are normally performed by a 5 license server. The preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a computer network including a plurality of agents running at least one license server and at least one software application. The license server controls a database of an agent containing the license information for the software application. The license information is contained in a license token, and is 10 stored in the database controlled by the license server. The license token is a special bit pattem or packet which is encrypted by the software vendor of the application software. The software application communicates with the license server through a licensing library. The licensing library is a collection of library routines that the software application invokes to request or renew a license 15 from the license server. Before a software application obtains a license, the acense token must be decoded by a license access module. The license access module, which is linked with the software application and the licensing libraly is a program that decodes the license token from a vendor specific format to a licensing library format.
When an user wishes to run a software application, the licensing library invokes a call to request a license token from the license server. In contrast to the prior art where the license seNer either grants or denies the request after verifying the user's credentials, the license seNer in the preferred embodiment 25 of the present invention finds the correct license token for the software app'ic-t on and transmits the license token to the licensing library. The license access module attached to the licensing libra~y decodes the licensing token. ~- -Routines in the licensing library coupled to the software application verify theGcense information before checking out the license and updating the license 30 token. The license access module encodes the updated license token before returning it to the license server.

....~, - ~
~ -:

-~o25434 Because the verification and check out function of a license token are performed by a software application, the software application rather than the license serve! becomes the point of attack by unauthorized users. Reverse engineering the license access module is less rewarding than attacking the 5 license server because the license access module reveals the contents of a fraction of a database of licenses. By the time most attackers crack the licenseaccess module, the software vendors would most likely introduce newer versions of the software application and new license access modules for them.
Thus the present invention provides a more secure method for protecting 10 against the unauthorized use of a software application in a computer network environment without modifying the underlying computer network.

BRIFF DESCRIPTION OF THF DRAWINGS

Figure 1 illustrates a network environment employing the present invention.

Figure 2 describes the architecture of a network licensing scheme employing the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 3 describes the installation of a license token in the preferred 10 embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 4a illustrates the use of a license token to request a license from a license server in the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 4b illustrates the use of a license token to renew a license from a license server in the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 4c illustrates the use of a license token to release a license from a license server in the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

NOTATION AND NOMENCLATURF

The detailed description that tollows is presented largely in terms ot algorithms and symbolic representations o~ operations on data bits and data 5 structures within a computer memory. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are the means used by thcse skilled in the data processing arts to most effeclively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art.

An algorithm is here, and generally, conceived to be a self-consistent sequence of steps leading to a desired result. These steps are those requiring physical manipulation of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form ot electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated. It proves 15 convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bit patterns, values, elements, symbols, characters, data packages, or the like. It should be borne in mind, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities.
Further, the manipulations performed are often referred to in terms, such as adding or comparing, that are commonly associated with mental operations performed by a human operator. No such capability of a human operator is , .
necessary, or desirable in most cases, in any of the operations described 25 herein that ~orm part of the present invention; the operations are machine operations. Useful machines for performing the operations of the present invention include general purpose digital computers or other similar devices. Inall cases there should be borne in mind the distinction between the method of operations in operating a computer and the method of computation itselt. The 30 present invention relates to method steps for operating a computer in processing electrical or other (e.g. mechanical, chemical) physical signals to generate other desired physical signals.

LYH - 7 - ~2225 P109 .,,,., ~, ~,r.,~
: - ' s .. ~.

-The present invention also relates to an apparatus Sor performing these operations. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, or it may comprise a general purpose computer as selectively 5 activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. The algorithms presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. In particular, various general purpose machines may be used with programs written in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove more convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to 10 perform the required method steps. The required structure for a variety of these machines wiil appear from the description given below.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THF INVENTION

The following detailed description is divided into several sections. The first of these sections describes a general network environment for accessing a 5 database of licensed software programs. Subsequent sections discuss the details of a method for protecting against the unauthorized use ot a software application.

I. General Network Environment Referring to Figure 1, computer network environment comprises a plurality of data processing devices identified generally by numerals 10 through 10~ (illustrated as 10,10' and 10n). These data processing devices may include terminals, personal computers, workstations, minicomputer, 15 mainframes and even supercomputers. For the purposes of this Specification, all data processing devices which are coupled to the present invention's network are collectively referred to as ~agents~. It should be understood that the agents may be manufactured by different vendors and may also use different operating systems such as MS-DOS, UNIX, OS/2, MAC OS and 20 others. Particular examples of suitable agents include machines manu1actured by Sun Microsystems, Inc., Mountain View, Calif. Each of the agents has an input device such as a keyboard 11, 11' and 11~ or a mouse 12, 12' and 12n. As shown, agents 10 through 10~ (illustrated as 10,10' and 10n~ are interconnected for data transfer to one another by a common cable 13. It will be25 appreciated by one skilled in the art that the common cable 13 may comprise any shared media, such as coaxial cable, fiber optics, radio channel and the like. Furthermore, the network resulting from the interconnection of the cable 13 and agents 10 through 10n (illustrated as 10,10' and 10n) may assume a variety of topologies, such as ring, star, bus, and may also include a collection 30 of smal1er networks linked by gateways or bridges.

LYH - 9 - ~2225.P109 .': ,' ,~ .

-- 2~25434 Referring again to Figure 1 is a license service 14. The license service 14 is a resource shared by every agent connected to the network. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the license service 14 comprises license servers 15 through 15m (illustrated as 15,15' and 15m) and databases 17 through 17m (illustrated as 17,17' and 17m)~ where m is less than or equal to n. A license server is a program that runs on an agent with a memory storage capability. Each license server 15 (illustrated as 15,15' and 15m) communicates with a database 17 stored in memory on the agent over an interface 16 (illustrated as 16,16' and 16m). As will be described in detail below, the database 17 stores licensing information for various software applications which are purchased and authorized to run in the computer network environment. The license server is not limited to run on a specific agent, but can operate on any agent including the agent on which the user is to operate the application. Thus, any agent connected to the network may function as a license server as well as a device on which a user may operate application software. As will be described below, the license server does not perform verification of licenses of application software; rather the license server is passive and provides storing, locking, logging, and crash recovering function for the application software.
Figure 2 illustrates the architecture of a network licensing scheme of the present invention. The architecture comprises a database 18, database interface 19, license server 20, licensing library 24, License access module 27, license administration tool 21, license service binder 29, and license production tool 34.

The database 18 stores licensing information and application usage data. Preferably the database 18 comprises a plurality of records which contain the following information:

Database Flenlent Description Unique Key Table Keys for all other tables Vendor Table Vendor's ID and name Product Table Product number and name S Version Table Version number and date License Table License #,.exp date, total units License Token Table Stores encoded license token Unit Group Table A group's allocation of license Group List Table Name of the group Allowed Users Table Credentials of allowed users Current License Use Table Applications using a license Lock Table Locked records in database Authorized administrator Table Login names of administrators License Operation Log Table Administrator's log inSormation License Usage Log Table Request handle plus Client Log License Queue Log Table License wait queue Application Message Log Table Application specific messages A database interface 19 provides communication between the license server 20 and the database 18 in order to prevent concurrent access to the 20 same database record by multiple users which can cause the data in the record to become corrupted. Thus, only the owner of the lock can read from and write to the locked record during the usage of the application.

The license ser~er 20 operates on an agent and interfaces the database 18 to license administration tool 21, licensing library 24 and license service 25 binder 29. The license server 20 communicates with the license administration tool 21, licensing library 24 and license service binder 29 via an interface 23. Preferably the interface 23 is a remote procedure call L~'H - 11 - 82225.P109 4 3~
mechanism which permits a p~ocess operating on one device or agent A~, connected to the network to request a resource or service from a remote device or agent connected to the network See A. Birrell and B. Nelson, ~Implementing Remote Procedure Calls,~ ACM Transaction on Computer Systems, February 1984, Vol. 2, No. 1.

Multiple license servers may reside on multiple agents. Preferably the license server 20 operates in a background mode o~ the agent such that its operation is transparent to a user of that agent. More particularly, as will be described below, the license server 20 provides the following functions: 1) servicing the requests from the licensing library 24 for license token; (2) maintaining a wait queue ~or requests to the database 18 when no licensing units are available; (3) generating locks for exclusive access to database 18; and (4) providing access to infor-mation in the database 18.

The licensing library 24 is a set of library routines which enable the application 26 to request licensing service ~rom the license server 20. Upo receiving the request for service from the licensing library 24, the license server 20 retrieves a license token from the database 18 and transmits it to thelicensing library 24. The licensing library 24 is linked with the application 26and communicates with the license server 20 over a path 28 with, preferably, a remote procedure call mechanism 23. Among the major library calls in the licensing library 24 is the application's re~uest for a license from the licenseserver 20. Other important library calls include the request to renew and to release a license. The use o~ the license token to accomplish the reques~ for the various licensing service will be described in detail below.

The license access module (LAM) 27 is prepared by the software vendor 24 to decode the license token. Once decoded, the application 26 via routines in the licensing library verifies the licensing information in the license token and determines whether a license may be checked out. The LAM 27 LYH - 12 - 82225.P109 2~ 4 3 4 also encodes the license token be~ore the application returns it to the database18 via license server 20. The license access module 27 is described in further detail below.

The license administration tool 21 is utilized by the network administrator to perform administrative functions relevant to the concurrent usage of a software application. The license administration tool 21 may run on any agent connected to the computer network. The license administration tool 21 is primarily used to install the license token into the database 18 through the license server 20. The functionality of the license administration tool 21 includes: (13 starting orterminating a license server, (2) accessing a database controlled by a license server; and (3) generating and printing reports on license usage.

The application 26 may not access the database 18 directly; rather, the request for a license is made through the licensing library 24 to the license seNer 20 over a path 28. Most network licensing schemes employ secured communication between the licensing library 24 and the license server 20. In contrast, the present invention uses the license access module (LAM) 27 the license library 24 and a plurality of license tokens to protect against the unauthorized use of software application in a computer network.

Referring once again to Flgure 2, a license seNice binder 29 is shown coupled to the license seNer 20 over a path 30. The license service binder 29 is invoked by means known in the art, such as a network service program.
The license seNice binder 29 locates all agents that are designated as seNers on the network, and keeps track of which server is servicing which a,~plication.The license service binder 29 contacts each server on its table of available seNers and requests a list of products it serves. Finally the license seNice binder 29 writes the contents of the table of available license servers and the -list of products into a binding file 32 over a path 31. In Flgure 2, the bindingfile 32 is coupled to the licensing library 24 over a path 33. The application 26 _ .... . . .......................................... ~ .
";':: . . ,~, - - - ` ' . . .

queries the binding file 32 to see which license server can service its request for a license.

A license production tool 34 is used by the software vendor to create a 5 license token for transmittal to the network administrator. Receiving the license token, the network administrator installs it with the license administration tool 21 into the database 18 through license server 20.

Il. ~icense Token Referring to Figure 3, the creation of a license token in a computer network employing the preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described. A computer network 38 is shown coupled with a license administration tool 39 and a single license server 44. The license server 44 communicates with a database 45. Applications 41, 42, and 43 are shown 15 requesting licensing service from the license server 44. When a customer purchases a license for an application, such as a CAD/CAM program for its research and development department, the software vendor creates a license token with a license production tool, and delivers the license token to the customefs network administrator. A license token is a special bit pattern or 20 packet representing a license to use a software application. The network administrator installs the license token 46 into the database of the license server using the license administration tool 39. Unlike ;he token used in a token ring which is passed from agent to agent, a license token in the preferredembodiment of the present invention is passed only between a license server 25 and a licensing library for a predetermined amount of time. The predeterminedamount of time corresponds to the time the license token is checked out of the license server. Currently, the license token is checked out to an application for no more than ten seconds, and the license token is returned as quickly as possible to the issuing license server. The license token 46 contains 30 information encrypted in the vendor's format such as ,vendor identification, product and version numbers as well as the number of license units purchased LYH - 14 82225.P109 s,"
- -.``' ~ o ... ~. ..... .

for the license token. A license unit corresponds to the license weighting for an agent connected to the computer network. For example, powerful workstations could require more license units to use a software application than an average personal computer.

The software vendor produces a license token using a license production tool 40. A path 47 illustrates how a license token 46' makes its way to a license administration tool 39 at the customer's site. There, the system administrator installs the license token 46' as license token 46 into thelicense database 45 of the license server 44. A path 48 indicates the transfer of the license token 46' from the license administration tool 39 to the license server 44 and into the database 45 as license loken 46. The license server 44 is now ready to entertain requests from applications 41,42, and 43 for a license to use the application corresponding to token 46 as well as other applications represented in its database 45.

It should be understood that each network may have a plurality ot license servers and each license server may have in its database a plurality of license tokens for a variety of software applications. Referring again to Flgure3, if application A 41 requests and checks out the license token 46 for less than ten seconds, applications B and C 42,43 would be unable to check out the license token 46 if their equests were made during the same time application 41 is checking out a license from the license token 46 because of the locking mechanism provided by database intertace 19. Thus, to achieve concurrent license usage in network 38, it is preferred that the networ'~
administrator installs more than one license server. To minimize the task of recovering from license server crashes, it is also preferred that the system administrator spreads the license units for any one application among a plurality ot strategically located license servers. For instance, if a network has four license servers, the network administrator may want to allocate the twenty license units for a particular popular application among four license tokens with . ~.

five license units for each license token. In the event one license server crashes or the license token is checked out, the other three license servers may provide licensing service to other applications.

Figure 4a illustrates the use of a license token to request for a license.
As shown, a network 50 is provided, and is coupled to Applications 52, 54 and 56 respectively. Application 56 succeeded in requesting a license token from the license server 58 in step 59 The license token is transmined to application ~6 in step 60. When done, Application 56 returns the license token to the license server 58 in step 61. Aside from the license request function performed with the license token as shown in Figure 4a, the license token is also used in other critical stages of the licensing process. For example, an user may wish to run an application beyond the initial allocated time. -As shown in Figure 4b, Application 68 makes a license renewal request 71 from the license server 70 with license token 72. Similarly, in Figure 4c the user makes a license release request 83 when the application no longer needs the license units. As such, the user updates the license token 84 by returning the updated license token to the license server 82 in step 85.

Ill. License Access Module In Figure 2, a license access module (LAM3 27 is linked with the application 26 and the licensing library 24 to form the executable code that software vendors ship to the customers. The license access module 27 decodes and encodes the encrypted license token as it is being passed between the license server and the licensing library 24. Thus the level of security of an application from unauthorized use depends heavily upon how secure the license access module is.

Conventional network licensing schemes use publiclprivate key encryption to encode sensitive information. Such a scheme is ef~ective if the ---license server is in a trusted environment. However, the customer has the LY~ - 16-82225.P109 .. _ .
: .~,,. -. ~
: '' `'" ~: ,~

2 0 254 3fi same access to any agent in a network, including the license server. The security of the licensing scheme can be compromised by a user who decrypts the license server's private key. Once the unauthorized user determines the serve~s private key, he can decrypt all sensitive information on the license 5 server. Should all license servers use the same key, as is frequently done, then all the security of the applications served by all the license servers will be compromised.

The license access module 27 first translates a license token Srom a 10 vendor specific format to a format usable by the licensing library 24. The license access module accomplishes the translation in two modules. One module translates or decodes a license token from a vendor specific format to a licensing library format. The second module translates or encodes the updated license token from the licensing library format to the vendor specific format.
15 The second module is invoked anytime the licensing library updates the information in a license token.

Upon receiving the license token in the licensing library format, the licensing library invokes routines which verify the correctness of the license by 20 reviewing the following license information stored in the token: (l ) flag, (2) maintenance contract date, (3) host name and domain, (4) product name, (5) host id numbe-, (6) license serial number, and (7) expiration date of license.
This is compared to the information maintained by the application. If the information matches, the license is verified. After completing the verification 25 process, a routine in the licensing library is initiated which checks out thelicense by decrementing the license units in license token by the number of licensing units being checked out.

The decoding and encoding routines allow software vendors to 30 implement their own security mechanism to protect their licenses from unauthorized use even though they reside at the customer's site.

~' ' .

2025'~34 Below is an example of a sample application using the licensing library and the license access module written in C language:

5 #define LIC_RENEWAL TIME (60) /set renewal time for this session/
#define EST_LIC_RENEWAL_TIME (LIC_RENEWAL_TIME x .9) NL vendor_id NL_Vendor_id = 1223; /set vendor #/
NL_prod_num NL_Prod_num =~02" /set product #/
NL_version NL_Version = ( 12/20/88, ~1.0~ ); /set version id #/

. . .
status = NL_init (vendor_id, NULL, &job_id); /initialize license service/
if (status != NL_NO_ERROR) /accept job id if no error/
fprintf (stderr, ~nl_init failed - error =
%d~n~, status ); /error message if error and retu rn/
return;
}

units = 3;
code_funcs.encode~ = nl_encode; /pointer to encode function/
code_funcs.decode~ = nl decode; /pointer to decode function/
if (signal (SIGALRM), alarm_intr ) == (void ~) -1 ) /set alarm if no error/
{
perror (~Cannot set SIGALRM~); /otherwise, error message/
return;
status - NL_request aob_id, NL_Prod_num, /request a license/
&NL Version, units, LIC_RENEWAL_TIME, NL_L2_SRCH, &code_funcs, NULL, &re~handle, NULL, &app_info);
if (status != NL_NO ERROR) /no error, license checked 1 out from license server/
fprintf (stderr, ~nl_request failed - error=
%d\n~, status); /otherwise, error message/
retum;
}

/-We got a license /license request successful/
/

alarm (EST_LIC_RENEWAL_TIME); /set alarm for license renewal time/
Application Runs /runs application/
...
status = NL release (re~handle); /request to release a license/
if ~status l= NL_~O ERROR) fprintf (stderr, ~nl_release failed - error = /otherwise, error LYH - 18 - ~22~5 P'-^~

..... ..
: -- ,"

2025~34 %d\n~, status); messages/
, return;

. . .
~; int alarm_intr () status = NL_confirm (re~handle, /renew licensing unit with LIC_RENEWAL_TIME, NULL); licensing server/
10 r Verify vendor private inlormation If (status!= NL_NO_ERRO~) fprintf (stderr, ~nl_confirm failed - error= /otherwise, error %~n~, status); message/
puts ( license renewed~) /successful license renewal/
The sample application given above is accompanied by self-explanatory annotation to the right margin of the codes. Of particular interest are code_func.encode_p and code_func.decode~. Encode_p and decode_p are pointers to the software vendors encode and decode routines, 25 respectively. Taking the pointers in the code_func variable, the licensing library can use the pointers to invoke the decoding and encoding routines in the license access module. The three major licensing library routines, request for a license (NL_request), release a license (NL_release) and renew a license (NL_confirm) invoke the decoding and encoding routines. For examp e of a 30 license access module, see Appendix 1.

In implementing the license access module, the license server becomes merely a repository for license tokens. The licensing library coupled to the application performs the procedure of authenticating the license token prior to 3~ granting a license and therefore access to nun the application.
Because the level of security of the system is dictated by the license access module, the software vendors are free to make the license access -module as simple or as complex as they desire. In par~icular, they are free to LYH ~9 ~2225 P109 . ."'-"-- ~

}' ` - -- - , ...... ....

adopt any of the encryption schemes as part of their encryption routines. If thesecurity mechanism is broken, and the encryption known to others, then the software vendors can easily remedy the situation by releasing a new version of the product with a new license access module.

While the present invention has been particularly described with reference to Figures 1-4 as well as Appendix 1, and with emphasis on certain language in implementing a method to protect against the unauthorized use of software application in a computer network environment, it should be 10 understood that they are for illustration only and should no~ be taken as limitation upon the invention. In addition, it is clear that the method of the present invention has utility in any application run in a computer network environment. It is contemplated that many changes and modifications may be made, by one skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of 15 the invention disclosed above.

-~a-: ,~.1 l * Q (#)nl_la.c 1.21 89/09/13 * Copyright (c) 1988 by Sun Microsystems, Inc.
*/
/*
*************************************************************
*

* Module: nl_lam.c *
* Description:
* Contains the license access modules. Uses XDR to keep * the license token in a machine independent form. Uses * the des_crypt (3) routines to encrypt/decrypt the * licensing information.
*

* Functions:
* nl_decode() - Decodes a vendor's license token * nl_encode() - Encodes a vendor's license token * Notes:
*

*************************************************************
*/
#include <rpc/rpc.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <memory.h>
#include "nl_types.h"
#include "nl_prot_limits.h"
#include "nl_request.h"
#include "nl_token.h"
#include "nl_vendor.h"
#include "nl_licensel.h"
#include "nl_errno.h"
/*
*************************************************************
* Module Local Definitions *************************************************************
*/
/*
* Warning: This could be a potential security threat, leaving * a unencoded token lying around in memory.
Static NL_license _nl_lic_tok;
/*
*************************************************************
* Function Declarations *************************************************************

*/
void nl_lam();
static int _nl_decode();
static int _nl_encode();
/*
*************************************************************
*

APPENDIX 1 - Page 1 of 8 2~43~

~ * Function: nl_lam *

* Description:
* This function returns the address of the encode and * decode routines.
*

* Input:
* conv_2_ascii_p - storage that indicates whether to * conv to ascii * code_func_p - storage contains address of * encode/decode routines * Output:
* conv_2_ascii_p - returns an indication whether the token * should be converted to ascii so that it * may be printable.
* code_func_p - Contains address of encode/decode * routines *

* Returns:
* Nothing *

* Notes:
* 1) The reason that the conv_2_ascii_p value is returned * is to inform the License Production Tool if it needs * to do an ascii encoding on the license token. The * license token must be in some type of ascii form to * allow it to be transmitted over voice phone or to be * Fax'ed to an end user.
*

*************************************************************
*/
void nl_lam(conv_2_ascii_p, code_func_p) bool_t *conv_2_ascii_p;
NL_code_funcs *code_func_p;
{

if (conv_2_ascii_p != NULL) {

*conv_2_ascii_p= TRUE;
}

code_func_p->decode_p = _nl_decode;
code_func_p->encode_p = _nl_encode;
} /* nl_lam */
/*
*************************************************************
*

* Function: nl_decode * Description:
* Translates a license token from vendor specific format to * a client library specific format.
*

APPENDIX 1 - Page 2 of 8 , .

, ~ 2~5~34 * Input:
* en_tok_p - Pointer to the encoded token * en_length - Length of the encoded token in * bytes *

* Output:
* tok_p - Pointer to the token structure to * fill in * clnt_entry_p - Pointer to the address of the first * client usage entry *

* Returns:
* NL_NO_ERROR - Decoding succeeded * NL_E_DECODE_FAIL
*

* Side Effects:
* 1) Allocates memory for the client usage entries.
*
* Notes:
* 1) If tok_p->vend priv_p or tok_p->vend_priv_p-* >data_p is NULL then the call doesn't want it.
*

*************************************************************
*/
static int _nl_decode(en_tok_p, en_length, tok_p, clnt_entry_p) char *en_tok_p;
int en_Iength;
NL_token *tok_p;
NL_clnt_entry **clnt_entry_p;
{

NL_usage_entry usage_entry;
NL_clnt_entry *tmp_clnt_entry_p;
XDR xdrs;
int i;
int status;
int vend_size;
I*
* Make sure the size for the encoded token is * divisible by xdr bytes per unit.
if (en_length !- RNDUP(en_length)) return (NL_E_DECODE_FAIL);
}

/*
* Init an XDR stream */
xdrmem_create(&xdrs,en_tok_p, (u_int)en_length, XDR_DECODE);

APPENDIX 1 - Page 3 of 8 ~ (~ 2025434 status = NL_ NO_ERROR;
if (xdr_NL_license(&xdrs, &_nl_lic tok) == FALSE) xdr_destroy(&xdrs);
return (NL_E_DECODE_FAIL);
}

if (_nl_lic tok.magic == MY_VENDOR MAGIC) tok p->vendor_id = nl_lic_tok.vendor_id;
(vold) strncpy(tok_p->prod_num,nl_lic tok.prod_num, NL PROD_NUM_SIZE);
tok p->vers_secs - _nl_lic_tok.vers_secs;
memcpy(tok p->serial_num,nl_lic_tok.serial_num, NL_SERIAL_NUM_SIZE);
tok_p->expire_secs - _nl_lic_tok.expire_secs;
tok_p->maint_secs = _nl_lic_tok.maint_secs;
tok_p->total_units - _nl_lic_tok.total_units;
tok p->avail units = nl_lic_tok.avail_units;
(vold) Strncpy(tok_p->host, nl_lic_tok.host, NL_HOST_NAME_SIZE):
(void) strncpy(tok_p->domain, _nl_lic_tok.domain, NL_DOMAIN NAME_SIZE);
tok_p->hostid - nl_lic_tok.hostid;
tok_p->flag = _nl_lic_tok.flag;
tok_p->num clnts - _nl_lic_tok.num clnts;
/*
* Give the use a copy of the vendor private data if * they want it.
*/
vend_size = MIN(_nl_lic tok.vend_priv_size, NL VEND_PRIV_SIZE);
if (vend slze > 0 && tok_p->vend_priv_p != NULL &&
tok_p->vend_priv_p->data_p != NULL) {

tok_p->vend_priv_p->length = vend_size;
(void) memcpy (tok_p->vend_priv_p->data_p, nl_lic_tok.vend_priv, MIN(vend_size, tok_p->vend_priv_p->length));
tmp_clnt_entry_p = (NL_clnt_entry *) malloc((tok_p->num clnts+1)* size of (NL clnt entry));
*clnt_entry_p~- tmp_clnt_entry_p;
for (i=0; i < tok_p->num_clnts; i++, tmp clnt_entry_p++) APPENDIX 1 - Page 4 of 8 ,., .

" ' 2025434 xdr_NL_usage_entry(&xdrs, &usage_entry);
tmp_clnt_entry_p->req_handle =
usage_entry.req._handle;
tmp_clnt_entry p->units = usage_entry.units;
tmp_clnt_entry_p->renew_secs =
usage_entry.renew secs;
tmp_clnt_entry_p->clnt_secs =
usage_entry.clnt_secs;
tmp_clnt_entry_p->pid = usage_entry.pid;
}
}

else {

status = NL_E_DECODE_FAIL;
}

xdr_destroy(&xdrs);
return (status);
} /* nl_decode */
/*
*************************************************************
*

* Function: nl_encode *

* description:
* Translates a license token from a client library specific * format to a vendor specific format. Verifies that the * encrypted token does not exceed the NL_MAX_EN_TOKEN_SIZE.
*

* Input:
* tok_p - Pointer to the token structure to read * data from * clnt_entry_p - Pointer to the address of the first * client usage entry * Output:
* en_tok_p - Pointer to the encoded token * en_length - Length of the encoded token in bytes *

* Returns:
* NL_NO_ERROR - Encoding succeeded * NL E ENCODE FAIL
*

* Side Effects:
* 1) Frees memory for the client usage entries.
*

* Notes:
*

* 1) If tok_p->vend_priv_p is NULL then the call doesn't * want it.
*

*************************************************************

APPENDIX 1 - Page 5 of 8 -~, ~L(,o ~
` _ ' 2025434 */
static int nl_encode(tok_p, clnt_entry_p, en_tok_p, en_length_p) NL_token *tok_p;
NL_clnt_entry *clnt_entry_p;
char *en_tok_p;
int *en_length_p;
{

XDR xdrs;
NL_usage_entry usage_entry;
NL_clnt_entry *tmp_clnt_entry_p;
int i;
int tok_lenl;
int tok_len2;
int status;
status = NL_NO_ERROR;
/*
* Init an XDR stream */
xdrmem_create(&xdrs, en_tok_p, (u_int)NL_MAX_EN_TOKEN_SIZE, XDR_ENCODE);
/*
* If for some reason the license token that we Wl 11 * encode is not the same as the previous one decoded (in * our module local global) then we copy the information * in.
*/
if (memcmp(_nl_lic_tok.serial_num, tok_p->serlal_num, NL_SERIAL_NUM_SIZE) != 0) {

nl_lic_tok.magic = MY_VENDOR_MAGIC;
nl lic_tok.vendor_id - tok_p->vendor_id;
(vo~ld) strncpy(_nl_lic_tok.prod_num, tok_p->prod_num,NL_PROD_NUM_SIZE);nl_lic_tok.vers_secs = tok_p->vers_secs;
(void) memcpy(_nl_lic_tok.serial_num,tok_p->serial_num,NL_SERIAL_NUM_SIZE);nl_lic_tok.expire_secs = tok_p->expire_secs;
nl lic_tok.maint_secs = tok_p->maint_secs;
(vo~ld) strncpy(_nl_lic_tok.host, tok_p->host,NL_HOST_NAME_SIZE);
(void) strncpy(_nl_lic_tok.domain, tok_p->domain, NL_DOMAIN_NAME_SIZE);
nl_lic_tok.hostid - tok_p->hostid;
nl_lic_tok.flag = tok_p->flag;
f (tok_p->vend_priv_p != NULL &&
tok_p->vend priv_p->data_p != NULL) nl_lic_tok.vend_priv_size =
MIN(tok_p->vend_priv_p->length, NL_VEND_PRIV_SIZE);
(void) memcpy(_nl_lic_tok.vend_priv, tok_p->vend_priv_p->data_p, APPENDIX 1 - Page 6 of 8 ,,, ~.

nl lic_tok.vend_priv size);
}
else {

nl_lic_tok.vend_priv_size = O;
_nl_lic_tok.vend_priv[0] = NUL;
}

nl_lic_tok.total_units = tok_p->total_units;
nl_lic-tok.avail_units = tok_p->avail_units;
_nl lic tok.num clnts = tok p->num clnts;
if (xdr_NL_license(&xdrs, &_nl_lic_tok) == FALSE) {

xdr destroy(&xdrs);
return (NL_E_ENCODE_FAIL);

}

if (clnt_entry_p != NULL) tmp_clnt_entry p = (NL_clnt_entry *) malloc((_nl_lic_tok.num_clnts+l) *
size of(NL_clnt_entry)), tmp_clnt_entry_p = clnt_entry_p;
tok_lenl - (int)xdr_getpos(&xdrs);
for (i=0; i < tok_p->num_clnts; i++, tmp_clnt_entry_p++) {

usage_entry.req_handle = tmp_clnt_entry_p->req_handle;
usage_entry.units = tmp_clnt_entry_p->units;
usage_entry.renew_secs - tmp_clnt_entry_p->renew_secs;usage_entry.clnt_secs = tmp_clnt_entry_p->clnt_secs;usage_entry.pid = tmp_clnt_entry_p->pid;
xdr_NL_usage_entry(&xdrs, &usage_entry);
/*
* Quick check here for the first pass of this * loop. We find out how many bytes it took to * encode 1 users entry. We then estimate the * total number of bytes required and make sure * that we will not exceed * NL_MAX_EN_TOKEN_SIZE.
*/
if (i == O) {

tok_len2 = (int)xdr_getpos(&xdrs) -tok_lenl;
tok_len2 *= tok_p->num_clnts;
if ((tok_lenl+tok_len2) >
NL_MAX_EN_TOKEN_SIZE) APENDIX 1 - Page 7 of 8 , . .

`, ~g 2025434 _ ~ {
i = tok_p->num_clnts;
status = NL_E_ENCODE_FAIL;
} }

free ((char *)clnt_entry_p);
*en_length_p = (int)xdr_getpos(&xdrs);
xdr_destroy(&xdrs);
return (status);
} /* nl_encode */

APPENDIX 1 - Page 8 of 8 . . . Y
.~

Claims (22)

1. In a computer network environment including a plurality of software applications licensed to run on at least one network of agents, said applications located on said agents wherein use of the application on a particular agent is permitted upon the grant of a license, said license being requested by a user from said agent of said applications, a system for protecting against the unauthorized use of said applications comprising:
license token means for storing licensing information of said applications;
license server means connected to said agents for communicating with said applications, said license server means having a database which stores said license token means, said license server means further retrieving said license token means from said database upon a request for a license by said applications, said license server means further transmitting said license token means to said applications;
license access means connected to said agents for decoding and encoding said license token means from said license server means, said license access means being integrated with said applications, said license access means receiving said license token means from said license server means; and licensing library means connected to said agents for verifying said decoded license token means before access to said license is granted, said licensing library means being integrated with said applications.
2. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein each said license token means containing licensing information for at least one version of each said applications.
3. The system as defined in claim 1, wherein the contents of said license token means is encrypted.
4. The system as defined in claim 1, wherein said license token means is passed between said license server means and said licensing library means for a predetermined time period.
5. The license token means as defined in claim 4 wherein during said predetermined time period, only one said applications may check out one said license token means.
6. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein said license server means receives said request for a license from said applications, said license server searches in said database for a license token means storing the license requested by said applications before retrieving said license token means.
7. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein said license access means decodes the contents of said license token means before said licensing library means verifies said license token means.
8. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein said license access means encodes said license token means after said licensing library verifies said license token means and prior to returning said license token means to said license server means.
9. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein said licensing library verifies said license token means by comparing the licensing information stored in said license token means with the licensing information maintained by said application.
10. The system as defined in Claim 1, wherein said licensing library means checks out said license of said application in response to a positive comparison of the license information.
11. The licensing library means as defined in Claim 10, wherein said license for said application being checked out after said licensing library verifies said license token means.
12. In a computer network environment including a plurality of software applications licensed to run on at least one network of agents, said applications located on said agents wherein use of the application on a particular agent is permitted upon the grant of a license, said license being requested by a user from said agent of said applications, a system for protecting against the unauthorized use of said applications comprising:
license token means for storing licensing information of said applications;
license server means connected to said agents for communicating with said applications, said license server means having a database which stores said license token means, said license server means further retrieving said license token means from said database upon a request for a license by said applications, said license server means further transmitting said license token means to said applications;
license access means connected to said application and accessible from said agents for decoding and encoding said license token means from said license server means, said license access means being integrated with said applications;
licensing library means connected to said application and accessible from said agents for verifying said decoded license token means before access to said license is granted, said licensing library means being integrated with said applications; and license binding means connected to said license server means and to said licensing library means for constructing a binding file, said binding file informing said licensing library means which of said license server means may grant a license to said application.
13. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said licensing library means are located on the same agents as said applications.
14. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license server means are located on the same agents as said licensing library means.
15. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein each said license token means contains licensing information for at least one version of each of said applications.
16. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein the contents of said license means is encrypted.
17. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license token means is passed between said license server means and said licensing library means for a predetermined time period.
18. The license token means as defined in Claim 17, wherein, during said predetermined time period, only one of said applications may check out one said license token means.
19. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license server means further transmit said license token means to said licensing library means.
20. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license access means decodes the contents of said license token means before said licensing library means verifies said license token means.
21. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license access means encodes said license token means after said licensing library verifies said license token means and prior to returning said license token means to said license server means.
22. The system as defined in Claim 12, wherein said license binding means constructs said binding file by contacting each said license server means to request for a list of applications it serves, said binding file containing said list of applications available from said license server means.
CA 2025434 1989-10-02 1990-09-14 Method for protecting against the unauthorized use of software in a computer network environment Expired - Fee Related CA2025434C (en)

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