How Does Dongle Protection Work?

Published: 17th May 2011
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The word "dongle" generally refers to a little electronic device and connects to a USB port on a notebook, desktop computer, or server. It looks very much like a flash drive. The most effective dongle protection is afforded when the device contains a smart card chip, onboard memory, and has a secure case to safeguard against physical harm. Dongle protection can only offer strong security when it is used correctly, which has to include encrypting the communications between the actual dongle and the computer’s operating system. Dongles can secure IP apart from commercial software, including PDFs, audio and video files, as well as access to websites. As well as the common USB form factor, dongle protection is also available on SD, Micro SD, and compact flash (CF) cards. Micro SD (µSD) and CF cards are well-liked for applications in embedded systems, as are ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) chips using the hardware protection built in.

The dongle protection device prevents illegal duplicating of the application by saving a key utilized to decrypt the application when the user initializes it. The application was formerly encrypted by the ISV and shipped to the end user in an encrypted form. Not until it is decrypted on startup can it operate on the user’s computer. Strong encryption like AES 128-bit is used typically for secure communications and financial transactions because its strength makes it uncrackable. Dongle protection ensures that the key for decryption is securely stored against attacks from pirates and crackers. Whenever an ISV uses dongle protection correctly, the danger of software piracy is decreased or even wiped out altogether.

Dongles can supply extremely strong security against IP theft, nevertheless they carry added costs that are both financial (you have to pay for the dongle and add that to the price of your software product) as well as convenience as the end user requires the dongle in order to be able to operate the program. Used properly, dongle security can supply unsurpassable levels of security against illegal duplicating of programs, data files, music, and video. Used improperly, dongles can provide the false impression of safety without strong protection.

Wibu-Systems USA manufactures dongles to enable you to protect your software. Learn more about license management at

Learn how you can use security dongles to copy protect your software application. Visit for more details.

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