Protected SWF's are bye-bye?

Please read this article for more indepth information on converting SWFs to FLA source files.

Since the first iterations of Macromedia’s ever-popular Flash (.swf) file format, I’ve liked the fact that content delivered through it had some sort of protection. With that, I mean the code I write, the sounds, graphics & video I add, are all locked from being extracted by other people.

Or at least, that WAS what I liked about it. For the better & certainly for the worse, the last shred of protection is now seemingly gone…

Extracting media…

Over the years, several applications have popped up, able to extract sounds, jpegs and even actionscript from flash files. This is both a blessing and a curse. I used one application of those myself, to try and rebuild my Noscope May 2002 issue, which I had lost in a crash. It didn’t go very well, and i pretty much gave up on it. But it was possible, with some work.

Actionscript Viewer

That’s when Actionscript Viewer came in to the picture. This application (as the website states), “lets you see the actionscripts in SWF (Flash movie) files … lets you extract resources […] … lets you browse the internals of SWF files […], and “helps you reconstruct the FLA file for a SWF by exporting SWF resources and a JSFL command“.

To be honest, I never tried the program, I only read about it. But as I understand it, ASV is actually able to not only extract all resources from your protected .swf file, but also REBUILD a fully working .fla (flash source file) using the new Flash MX 2004 JSFL commands. If i’m not wrong, it’s simply using MX 2004 batch scripting to “re-construct the timeline” based on information gathered from the analyzed .swf.

And fonts too?

As though rebuilding the entire .fla file wasn’t bad enough, ASV can now seemingly extract .TTF font files as well. I don’t know how well it works as I haven’t tried it but it obviously means, that font designers worldwide may get serious problems selling their fonts. I know several font stores that use the .swf format to provide a simple means of seeing and previewing a font. This obviously means including the actual font in the preview .swf. If what ASV says it can do is true, then those fonts could be pirated directly off the font retailers webstore.

These are all serious issues. No doubt there are many “legal” uses for this—certainly I would be able to rebuild my lost noscope issues… but at what price?

I know several font designers. I also know that designing fonts is not a lavish way of life.

I work at Titoonic. Among other things, we create webgames using Flash & Shockwave, like many other webgame companies. Our source code could be stolen using these applications.

I, for one, am worried about the implications of this.

2 thoughts on “Protected SWF's are bye-bye?”

  1. jon says:

    after reading this post i was curious just to how much an external .SWF viewer could actually see. i downloaded the small demo which only lets me see the first 5 frames of the .SWF and only about 25 lines of ActionScript, but after toying with the program i found it to be rather shocking. the viewer can even recreate the swf’s timeline AS and layers and all. not to mention it also shows the flash’s library. anyone one with the full version would easily be able to recreate and edit any flash site if they have just a bit of flash knowledge.

  2. Joen says:

    As mentioned in the article, I also tried those applications.

    The last one I tried was able to do all that you mention there. And yes, I would be able to recreate a Flash movie, but it would require lots of work and some expertise.

    That’s how I like it.

    I lost .fla files… sure we all have! Such a tool WOULD be handy, and I’m sure that countless users use the tools for honest purposes.

    The newest of tools, however, seem to be able to automatically re-create the timeline, and even extract .ttf symbols for use. This means, that with little work, /ANY/ .swf on the web can be turned in to a full working .fla in seconds!

    That, I don’t like… and that a font can be “re-created”—I don’t think font designers will like that.

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