Report reveals which piracy groups pose significant threat

V.i. Labs issued a report revealing that piracy groups are fully exploiting security gaps in the common licensing mechanisms used in electronic design automation (EDA), computer-aided design (CAD), and product lifecycle management (PLM) software to produce counterfeit versions of these high-priced applications.

In particular, the piracy groups TBE (the Bitter End), LZ0 (LineZero0), oDDity, and Zero Waiting Time (ZWT) pose significant threats. Because of the well-organized nature of these groups and their relationships with suppliers embedded in the software vendor operations, some of these piracy organizations are able to issue an average of 500 crack releases per year.

V.i. Labs evaluated 17 leading EDA and PLM vendors, including Agilent, ANSYS, Autodesk, Cadence Design Systems, Synopsis, Dassault, The MathWorks, Mentor Graphics, National Instruments, PTC, Solidworks, and UGS/Siemens, and discovered nearly 1,000 crack releases in the last three years alone, with 79 percent of those being PLM or CAD-related, and 21 percent being EDA-related.

These statistics suggest that disabling licensing mechanisms within these titles has become more scripting- and signature-based, with little reverse engineering required. In addition, the groups focused on specialized software like EDA and PLM, indicating a criminal sponsorship to meet the demand of manufacturing businesses within emerging markets.

V.i. Labs further analyzed several major releases of PLM vendors and determined an average Time To Crack (TTC) metric. TTC represents the point in time where the piracy group has produced a quality crack release of a vendor’s new software version. The average TTC for PLM vendors was 30 days. The fact that these vendors share the same license management framework plays a significant role in the piracy groups’ ability to leverage one vulnerability across multiple vendors.