alleging several problems associated with the protection system, including disk drive performance degradation, weakening of operating system security and stability
StarForce (all version known until August 2006) creates a real security problem when installed. The access control list of the drivers are set such that any user, including those without administrative rights, are allowed to change the association with the executable. Exploitation is simple: The user changes it to point at any arbitrarily chosen executable, which is executed with full system privileges on next reboot. This can be verified with the security tool "srvcheck2", which detects such potentially insecure driver configurations.
The fact that it collects data and sends it back to its designers is also very controversial, because users are not told of it doing so.
For example, here's one of the common problems brought by Starforce: under Windows XP, if packets are lost during the reading or writing of a disk, XP interprets this as an error and steps the IDE speed down. Eventually it will revert to 16bit compatibility mode rendering a CD/DVD writer virtually unusable. In some circumstances certain drives cannot cope with this mode and it results in physical hardware failure (Most commonly in multiformat CD/DVD writer drives). A sure sign of this step down occurring is that the burn speeds will get slower and slower (no matter what speed you select to burn at). Starforce, on a regular basis, triggers this silent step down. Until it reaches the latter stages most people do not even realise it is happening.
I'm okay with that in theory, but some of these anti-piracy software programs are so potent that they cause issues for legitimate game buyers. One of the leading brands, StarForce, is notorious for not only making it difficult for a small percentage of legitimate users to load up StarForce-protected games, but also for leaving potentially problem-causing StarForce software behind on your PC, even after you've deleted the game it was protecting. And this isn't just some story that I've read about online or in emails from readers. No, it happened to me.
Last year, my work PC suddenly began blue-screening (crashing) any time I popped an audio CD into either of my two optical drives. I went online and learned that other people were having this problem and that it appeared to be StarForce-related. Deleting my StarForce-protected games did nothing. I had to run a StarForce-removal utility before my system - filled only with legal, licensed software - could play audio CDs again.
I can personally testify of a slowing cd drive to the point I taught the drive was broken.
Next to the technical problems some tactics starforce use are downright scary and their "shut up or we will sue" mentality isn't something you want to make you hug them. And the little fact that the posted a link to download a game that had removed the protection after the complaints of many players raises questions of maffia tactics.
But then again since ubisoft dropped starforce and the financial situation of digital jesters. I don't think we will be seeing starforce any time soon on larians next games <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />.