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Monday, December 03, 2001
 TAG?S copy protection makes backups impossible(?)
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Message Text: As our visitors emailed us, a new copy protection called TAG?S ,found in the "Motoracer 3" game, cannot be defeated with all known CD copiers (CloneCD, CDMate, BlindWrite). As the company explains...

TAG?S is not a dongle or an authentication mark on the disk. On the other hand, TAG?S is neither an encapsulation software nor an encryption algorithm. TAG?S is not pure hardware, nor is it just software… It is both hardware and software. The TAG?S protection system leverages two complementary approaches:

The first is based on a specific, patented mastering process that is used to physically distinguish the disks and to create a secure zone on the disk where data can be dissimulated. This secure zone can be read by any CD drive, but cannot be reproduced with a CD burner: it is just physically impossible.

The second approach makes use of a set of software components implementing the protection strategy and measures. These are based on cryptography techniques (you can see the data, but they appear meaningless unless you are in possession of the right deciphering key), on steganography (essential data are hidden so that you do not even know they exist, let alone where to start searching, unless someone told you), and on a dozen other techniques aimed at giving a hard time to the most gifted hackers, and at making a generic crack virtually impossible.

The result? Firstly, a disk protected with TAG?S™ cannot be cloned, whatever CD burner you use, whatever CD-copy software you can find. Secondly, a disk protected with TAG?S™ can be copied, and the copy will be functional…up to the point that is tolerated by the publisher. The idea here is to let the holder of an illicit copy have a "taste and smell" of the genuine application, so that he may be tempted to acquire the license by licit means. Thirdly, TAG?S™ is the only protection system that is totally immune to generic patches. Even if someone succeeded in cracking one title protected with TAG?S™, all other titles would still be safe.
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