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How to remotely disable software?

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February 25, 2011 6:58:30 PM

Does anyone know of a way to remotely disable software from running? Or password protect certain files inside a program from being able to be copied without my permission?

I would like to be able to lock someone out of a specific program, or at the very least be able to block them from accessing certain files that the program uses.

a b L Programming
February 25, 2011 7:22:03 PM

Remotely accessing someone's computer without their permission is a criminal offence. I doubt that anyone here would wish to be party to a criminal conspiracy.
February 25, 2011 8:04:59 PM

Ijack said:
Remotely accessing someone's computer without their permission is a criminal offence. I doubt that anyone here would wish to be party to a criminal conspiracy.


I kinda figure that much. The situation is a little hard to explain.

Let's say you have a client that you program and install a bunch of software for. Then they want to drop you and go with another company to maintain/program that software. It would be nice to be able to lock that new contractor out of the work I did. If they want to bring in another contractor that's fine, but he shouldn't be able to profit off my work.

I was thinking that a better way to do it might be to encrypt the files that the software uses, so that if they try to copy the files that the files would be useless. But I'm not sure if the software would work properly if certain files were encrypted.

So it's not necessarily that I want to disable the software from working, just disable a new contractor from being able to work on the stuff I did. If a new contractor does come in, then they'd be required to recreate all the programming I did from scratch on their own. Which is fine, you steal a customer of mine, then you do all the work yourself.

(By programming I don't mean actual computer programming, just programming done inside the software package that I installed on the client's machine)

What I'm talking about is certainly a grey area. What I want to do, I seriously doubt is illegal. And I believe it can be done a few different ways.

Another way, but I don't know if it would work is to password protect certain .exe's included in the software. There's a "programming" mode that only contractors really use. If I could figure out how to password protect that exe from opening up that would be nice too.

I'm just scratching my head trying to figure out a way to protect my investments because sometimes things happen where a customer would refuse to pay me the rest of what they owe me and bring in a new guy. Then I end up having to take them to court and that's a nightmare. So if I could simply lock out the next guy from my programming that would be pretty awesome.





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a b L Programming
February 25, 2011 8:24:44 PM

I'm afraid that with what you are proposing it is more likely that you will end up in court than your client. If you do a job for someone and then they don't want to employ you further you just can't stop them using the program you have installed for them.

If you really want that sort of control then you need to draw up a contract stating exactly what they can and can't do up front. Then rely on the courts to enforce that contract (assuming anyone ever employed you under those conditions).

You do a job for someone and you get paid for it. That doesn't mean that the client has to employ you every time he wants further work done. The way you ensure that is to do such a good job that it is in the clients interests to keep employing you.
February 25, 2011 8:59:12 PM

Ijack said:
I'm afraid that with what you are proposing it is more likely that you will end up in court than your client. If you do a job for someone and then they don't want to employ you further you just can't stop them using the program you have installed for them.

If you really want that sort of control then you need to draw up a contract stating exactly what they can and can't do up front. Then rely on the courts to enforce that contract (assuming anyone ever employed you under those conditions).

You do a job for someone and you get paid for it. That doesn't mean that the client has to employ you every time he wants further work done. The way you ensure that is to do such a good job that it is in the clients interests to keep employing you.



All valid points. Trust me, I would cover my butt legally speaking and it would be written into the contract what I was doing.

The problem lies in the fact that the other contractors can steal my work. An example might be something along the lines of a website. A web design company could steal all my images and layouts and everything and change the name and use it to build another website. This is what I'm trying to protect.

I don't do web design, I'm just using that as an example so you know what I'm talking about.

This program uses a few database files, as well as a folder with over a thousand images. I would like to protect those databases as well as that folder full of images so the next contractor can't use them and profit off them. It's almost like a trade secret kind of thing.

I pay some very talented people to spend hours and hours making images for buttons and backgrounds and a bunch of other stuff. Then some guy can come in and take all of it in two seconds with a thumb drive.

This is what I'd like to protect. My own monetary investments.
a b L Programming
February 26, 2011 5:40:41 AM

The law of copyright already protects you. Telling a customer up-front that you don't trust them is unlikely to be productive.

You might wish to read this report about a guy who is facing a possible 15-year jail sentence for over-zealous protection of his software.
a b L Programming
March 2, 2011 12:15:55 PM

If the purpose is simply to prevent other companies to reverse engineer your work then you can always try using code obfuscators, but it could also make the application harder to debug and maintain. Moreover, it's not fool-proof, look how easy people hack software giant's products and they probably got a lot of people, brighter than you and I, working on that same concern ...

As ijack mentioned, you have to check the details of the contract you signed with the company; based on that, is the client the owner of the program or of the data? If you only licensed it, you might be in your right to relinquish access to it, but otherwise it could put you in trouble. For the database you might be screwed as the client is most probably the owner of his data. For the programming part, you can probably just put clear author information in comments and some copyright information; won't prevent copying, but would hold better in court if you show that the code is the same as the one with the copyright information they have actively removed. For images, the common thing to do is add watermarks, visible or not. With this, it helps proving an image is yours in court.
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