Frequently Asked Question

Updating Licenses: Licensing Server is being Deprecated
Last Updated 3 months ago

Applies to: Plato and Codectomy Versions V10.0 to V10.2.59

For Plato Version 10 apps, config.exe and plato.exe have always managed licenses by making https requests to a Plato licensing server. The license is an encrypted response that gets saved into a license file on the customer network. This process has been used successfully for over a decade.

However, Plato is now deprecating this technique.

The issue is that encrypted packets are of particular interest to increasingly sophisticated security suites deployed by customers to protect data and systems.  It is theoretically possible in all of these systems to whitelist servers and encrypted messages such as those used by Plato, but future rule updates or system enhancements could quietly block the license response. While customer sysops can often recognize and remedy this very quickly, significant user inconvenience can be expected if a license expires or is disrupted and cannot be renewed immediately.

V10.2.60: licenses provided as standard HTML web pages

As of V10.2.60, Plato licenses are no longer retrieved as encrypted packets from the licensing server. Instead, licenses are transmitted inside plain HTML web pages from the official Plato site.

All V10 customers have been directed to a sample license web page to confirm that it is not blocked by their systems. 

These are very plain unencrypted HTML web pages that display normally in a browser, so it is unlikely that they might be blocked. As most customers already have the platohealth.com (or platocode.com) website whitelisted, it is even less likely that a customer security update or enhancement would block ordinary web pages from a known safe site. 

If there is concern that inadvertent blocks might occur, Plato can provide a sample/dummy web page that can be added to automated customer test suites before new security rulesets or enhancements are deployed.

Deploying the new Licensing

This involves a new version of config.exe and plato.exe. All versions V10.2.60 and later will download HTML licenses from the platohealth.com site, rather than the licensing server.

V10.2.60 with these apps is available at the usual location as plato10.2.60.zip .

  • If you are using V10.2.60 or later: this licensing update is already deployed.
  • If you are using an earlier version of V10.2: for all current Plato systems you can safely deploy later minor releases as drop-in replacements, so you can simply backup and replace existing config.exe and plato.exe.
  • If you are using a version prior to 10.2: you need to update to V10.2 to access this enhancement. Until this can happen, your sysops will need to unblock whatever is preventing normal relicensing.

Customer systems that detect Steganography

Steganography describes the concealment of data or code inside other innocent-appearing files. Usually this involves image or sound files with data concealed in one or more of the less significant bits. These changes are undetectable when the file is displayed or played, but can be unpacked to their original form if you know how the data is stored.

As this has been successfully used as a hack vector, modern security systems have sophisticated algorithms to detect and intercept even very small payloads embedded in other files.

Sometimes concern is expressed that this could cause future blockages of Plato licenses if they are hidden in web pages. However, Plato's license HTML uses human-readable text with none of the disruptions that accompany bit manipulation. The content is bulkier than a steganographic image file, but this is not an issue for a license that is only downloaded occasionally.

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