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How does Smartsource Coupon Printer work?

vodreaux 2,636 May 29, 2008 at 08:35 PM
How does Smartsource Coupon Printer work?

It limits you to 1-3 coupons. Does it reports you ip, mac address, Windows Serial Number?

Or it stick something in your registery File or some root kit?

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CDI gave me free netflix!
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#2
How does Coupons, Inc's coupon printer software work? [tenbucks.net]
Quote from http://www.tenbucks.net/index.cfm/2007/7/15/How-does-Coupons-Incs-coupon-printer-software-work :
Posted At : July 15, 2007 1:30 PM | Posted By : John Stottlemire
Related Categories: Coupons, Inc

Coupons, Inc uses a technology which will retain a unique ID it has assigned to a computer even after that computer has removed its software from the computer. At first glance, I assumed this was done using a simple cookie or other form of identification of the computer such as IP number or even the MAC address assigned to the Ethernet card. Deleting the IP number, removing cookies and even changing the MAC address had no impact on the retention of the unique ID. My curiosity getting the best of me, I undertook an analysis of the coupon printer software to see what technology Coupons, Inc may have invented which thwarted all efforts to remove the unique ID.

On a computer I use strictly for testing, I reformatted and reinstalled my Windows XP operating system before beginning my analysis of the coupon printer offered by Coupons, Inc on its website at www.coupons.com. Then, through the use of tools, I compared changes to my Windows registry and hard drive so that I could determine exactly what changes the coupon printer made to my system. I further analyzed the html pages served by the coupons.com website and have come to the following conclusions:

Note: this analysis was made using Windows Internet Explorer Version 7.0 and may not hold true with other versions of Internet Explorer or with other web browsers. The coupon printer I installed, version 3.3.0.2, was installed through the use of a webpage with embedded cab file containing an ActiveX control, not the standard executable file that is downloaded to a computer and then launched. Using an embedded cab file limits Coupons, Inc's ability to add an "End User Licensing Agreement" and they must include that "Licensing Agreement" as a link on the page they offer the download from. The page I downloaded the cab file from contained no links to an underlying "End User Licensing Agreement" nor was such a file included in their cab file. Obviously a mistake on their part. The cab file was located at ftp://ftp.coupons.com/r3302/cpbrkpie.cab and contained two files, "cpbrkpie.inf", an instruction set telling windows how to install the file; and "cpbrkpie.ocx", the ActiveX control.

Installation of the cab file causes:

* cpbrkpie.inf to be copied to the "C:\windows\downloaded program files" directory
* cpbrkpie.ocx to be copied to the "C:\windows" directory
* "{9522B3FB-7A2B-4646-8AF6-36E7F593073C}" to be added to the windows registry at HKCR\CLSID
* "{7DD95802-9882-11CF-9FA9-00AA006C42C4}" to be added to the windows registry at HKLM\Software\Classes\CLSID\{87255C51-CD7D-4506-B9AD-97606DAF53F3}\Implemented Categories
* "{7DD95801-9882-11CF-9FA9-00AA006C45C4}" to be added to the windows registry at HKLM\Software\Classes\CLSID\{87255C51-CD7D-4506-B9AD-97606DAF53F3}\Implemented Categories

Installation causes no other changes to the computer at this time and when uninstalled, these entries are removed.

Coupons, Inc's download page contains a link which states "Installed the Coupon Printer? Get Coupons" you must click to print coupons you had previously selected as they apparently have no way to tell if you've installed the software or not. Clicking that link causes your web browser to go through a number of pages without requiring user input and eventually lands on a page that states it is sending coupons to your printer. Within a matter of minutes, the coupons you requested are now sitting on your printer waiting for you to cut them out and of course, take them to the store and enjoy your savings.

Analysis of the html code of the web pages which the web browser was automatically sent through shows that the ActiveX control was launched and queried to determine if your computer currently has an assigned user ID. The html code uses java script to invoke a procedure within the ActiveX called "GetUserID()". Further analysis of the html code reveals the GetUserID() function can either "timeout" in the event no UserID is found or return the UserID. The html code/java script has the timeout set to two seconds and I assume, if the UserID is not returned within that time period, the Coupons, Inc servers assume the computer has not yet been assigned a UserID.

Now, its time to compare my hard drive pre and post printing of the coupons.

Changes to the file structure of my computer:

* "uccspecb.sys" was created in the "C:\windows" directory with "hidden" attribute.
* "WindowsShellOld.Manifest" was created in the "C:\windows" directory with the "hidden" attribute.

No changes, to include temporary cache files, were created other than those stated above.

Changes to the Windows registry of my computer:

* "UccSpecB" was created at "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion"
* "URLDecoding" was created at "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings"
* "UccSpecB" was created at "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion"
* "Presentation Style" was created at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Controls Folder"
* "EnableAutoTrayHistory" was created at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer"

No changes were made to the Windows registry other than those stated above. (the contents of uccspecb.sys file and uccspecb registry keys contain a hexadecimal number containing the exact same number sent to Coupons, Inc's web server as the "UserID" and is printed on every coupon printed from Coupons, Inc's web site).

As Coupons, Inc's coupon printer software is not installed with the normal "exe" installable file when uninstall is required it cannot be done with the "Add/Remove Programs" function in the Control Panel of Windows. Uninstalling this software on Windows XP using Internet Explorer 7.0 requires launching of the "Internet Options" function in the Control Panel and then clicking on the "Manage add-ons" button on the "Programs" tab. On the "Manage add-ons" page, you must then select "Downloaded ActiveX Controls (32-bit)" from the "Show" dropdown list. Click "cpbrkpie" and then click "Delete" at the bottom of the screen. Windows will then remove the files and registry keys that were added to your system when you initially installed the coupon printer, however, it does not remove the files and registry keys added to the computer "post" printing of a coupon.

Uninstalling and then reinstalling the coupon printer show the UserID survives the uninstall process. Uninstalling, removing the files and registry keys which were not removed by the uninstall process (by simply using the [delete] key on the keyboard) and then reinstalling results in Coupons, Inc's website assigning a new "UserID" to the computer.

My conclusion:

Through the use of hiding files and registry keys on a computer, in areas normally reserved for the Windows operating system and naming these files and registry keys very closely to files and registry keys Windows requires to operate, Coupons, Inc attempts to control access to coupons it offers to the public. A special "password buster", "DVD Decrypter", "Key Generator", or software designed to block access to the hard drive or windows registry is not required to obscure your identity from Coupons, Inc. The only tool required is the delete button on your keyboard (or in the alternative, the simple windows command "erase") and knowledge of where these unprotected files lie.

Coupons, Inc has recently claimed that the "ability to control electronic reproduction of unique coupons is key to [our] success" and has, on more than one attempt, chilled the information I now make available in this report. (I am now in litigation with Coupons, Inc for posting this information on another website). Their attempt to style their attempts to chill as a DMCA claim requires that the judicial system of the United States make it illegal to delete files from your own computer and for the judicial system to further conclude that the act of "hiding files and registry keys" on a computer constitutes a "technological measure" as per the DMCA.
also...
Uninstalling the Coupon Printer from Coupons, Inc. [tenbucks.net]
Quote :
Coupons Inc appears to be releasing a new version of their coupon printer software each time I post instructions for its removal. Instead of beginning a new post each time they do this I will simply update this blog entry with a cumulative list of registry keys and files which must be removed beginning with version 3.3.0.2. As it is a cumulative list, all keys/files may not be on your computer.

Current as of December 19, 2007
Verified to work as of December 19, 2007 (those who claim this method does not work: zip up and email me your "couponprinter.exe" that you downloaded from coupons.com. My email address can be found on my "about me" page).

Please note the purpose of this blog entry
Orphaned Registry Keys and Files left on your system after you uninstall the coupon printer offered by www.coupons.com can be removed by following these instructions:

These directions should be followed exactly: (These instructions work 100% of the time if followed exactly)

Please note: This is a cumulative list for all versions of the coupon printer software distributed by coupons.com. As such, some of these registry keys may not be on your computer. (search for them, if they don't exist you never installed the version that would have deposited them)


Close all internet explorer windows and firefox windows
Ensure you are logged in with administrator rights

Open the Windows Command Prompt and type in the following commands:
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion" /v "UccSpecB" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion" /v "UccSpecC" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Controls Folder" /v "Presentation Style" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer" /v "EnableAutoTrayHistory" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings" /v "URLDecoding" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion" /v "LastBrick" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Classes\Manifest.Template.1" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Classes\Web.IndexCache.1" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Classes\Web.Template.Url" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Classes\English.cpl" /f
REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Classes\NODEMGR.Cache" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion" /v "UccSpecB" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Controls Folder" /v "Presentation Style" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer" /v "EnableAutoTrayHistory" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings" /v "URLDecoding" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion" /v "LastBrick" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Manifest.Template.1" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\English.cpl" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Web.Template.URL" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\NODEMGR.Cache" /f
REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Web.IndexCache.1" /f

Please note: This is a cumulative list for all versions of the coupon printer software distributed by coupons.com. As such, this directory may not be on your computer. (search for it, if it doesn't exist you never installed the version that would have created it)

Remove the directory:
C:\Program Files\Coupons

Please note: This is a cumulative list for all versions of the coupon printer software distributed by coupons.com. As such, some of these files may not be on your computer. (search for them, if they don't exist you never installed the version that would have deposited them)

Delete these files from your system while at a command prompt (type these lines in)
erase %windir%\uccspecb.sys
erase %windir%\WindowsShellOld.Manifest
erase %windir%\uccspecc.sys
erase %windir%\WindowsShellOld.Manifest.1
attrib -r -h %windir%\system32\cpnprt2.cid
attrib -r -h %windir%\cpnprt2.cid
erase %windir%\system32\cpnprt2.cid
erase %windir%\cpnprt2.cid

There are currently 4 cookies also stored on the computer
erase "c:\documents and settings\%username%\cookies\*print.coupons*.txt"
erase "c:\documents and settings\%username%\cookies\*couponbar.coupons*.txt"
erase "c:\documents and settings\%username%\cookies\*coupons*.txt"
erase "c:\documents and settings\%username%\cookies\*insight.coupons*.txt"

Alternatively, download, unzip and run the batch file below. It has only been tested on Windows XP SP2 and I'm not absolutely certain if it works on any other version of windows. File
..this thing is very nasty software so remember to use system restore or something everytime you're done using it as it buries in your computer and site there...kind of like malware IMHO..
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#3
Dzap, that is for Coupons, Inc's printer, but the OP asked about Smartsource's coupon printer, although it does work in a similar way, but with different software. Also, that 'hack' for Coupons Inc. is outdated and no longer works. As for system restore, that used to work, but no longer does. Smartsource's coupon printer, like Coupon Inc's printer, uses several things to create a 'unique ID' for your computer. Just like some online banking websites use, they look at things like the IP address (external - not behind router), computer MAC address, etc. to create this 'unique ID'.
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#4
Quote from leftnotright View Post :
Dzap, that is for Coupons, Inc's printer, but the OP asked about Smartsource's coupon printer, although it does work in a similar way, but with different software. Also, that 'hack' for Coupons Inc. is outdated and no longer works. As for system restore, that used to work, but no longer does. Smartsource's coupon printer, like Coupon Inc's printer, uses several things to create a 'unique ID' for your computer. Just like some online banking websites use, they look at things like the IP address (external - not behind router), computer MAC address, etc. to create this 'unique ID'.
Couldn't you just run it on a virtual machine? Sorry OT
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#5
I'm confused, if coupons.com only lets you print 1-3 coupons, what's stopping you from copying them as many times as you want?

Not that I would a root kit on my system anyway.
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L9: Master
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Original Poster
#6
Quote from General Ghoul View Post :
I'm confused, if coupons.com only lets you print 1-3 coupons, what's stopping you from copying them as many times as you want?

Not that I would a root kit on my system anyway.
Look at the coupons!

Each coupon has a unique serial number encoding. You can use it once. You can probably get it to print twice with the unique serial number but you should only use it once.

As for 1-3, it depends on the coupon. Some coupons only allows you to print once only, other coupons can print 2 - 3 times.
It probably depends on the how valuable the coupon is to the consumer.

E.G. You can more likely to print multiple coupons with each unique serial number for 50 cents off Tropicana Orange Juice than $1.00 Coupon.

As mention several times in slickdeals, the best way is multiple computers.

Regardless of printing coupons, internet coupons are only as good as you can use them at your local retailer. Some retail locations completely deny accepting internet printed coupons.
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#7
delete
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#8
SmartSource coupons are not as secure as Coupon.com's

Coupons.com uses server-side authentication and there is very little you can do about multiple coupon printing it unless you have a lot of spare PC's laying around. There is a way to capture Coupon.com's coupons and convert it to a PDF but it is illegal to use the same coupon over and over so I am not going into that.

SmartSource uses client-side (i.e. registry and software) checks to see if you have printed more than one coupon. The way to get around that is to lock your PC down so that any changes made to your PC is not permanent. You can do this by using "Deep Freeze" from a company called "Faronics" here is a link [faronics.com].

The main thing to remember is you MUST freeze your PC BEFORE you have ever run SmartSources software. It will not work after-the-fact. so find a virgin PC to pull this trick on.

The steps would look like this:

1. Download and install Deep Freeze and freeze your PC.
2. Try to print a SmartSource coupon. (You will be prompted to install their software).
3. The coupons will print. Reboot your PC once you hit your print limit.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 forever.

Remember to "unfreeze" your PC to return back to normal operation.
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#9
Quote from hAvAAck View Post :
Couldn't you just run it on a virtual machine? Sorry OT
You make a good point about using a VM. However, it will not work. You are still using the same external IP and MAC address as the machine hosting the VM. Plus there are some checks that Coupons.com's software will perform to see if it is being run on a VM or not. If it sense's a VM then it will refuse to print coupons. At least, that is what I have been told.

Leftnotright is correct when he said that Coupons.com's software looks at your external IP and MAC address to determine your "unique ID" number. It actually goes a few steps further. It looks at your motherboard manufacturer, your BIOS revision, your OS, your hard drive manufacturer, and your network card. All of those things are looked at to determine your "unique ID". That is why even if you were to wipe your hard drive and reinstall your OS, you still cannot print multiples because your hardware profile never changed and will still have the same "unique ID" number.
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#10
Quote from shanecrow99 View Post :
You make a good point about using a VM. However, it will not work. You are still using the same external IP and MAC address as the machine hosting the VM. Plus there are some checks that Coupons.com's software will perform to see if it is being run on a VM or not. If it sense's a VM then it will refuse to print coupons. At least, that is what I have been told.
Shanecrow99 is correct about if it senses a VM it will refuse to print.
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#11
While I'm not thrilled about a company collecting my info, I prefer that to them leaving and hiding code on my computer. That's what malware and viruses do too...ya know?
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#12
Quote from Xnarg View Post :
Depending on ones perspective, the "best way" may be using honesty and not trying to cheat the retailer.
agreed. the retailer is not reimbursed if you copy and use a coupon that is meant for one-time use. eventually they'll just try to stop you using coupons outright or at least say "no internet coupons"....
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#13
True Story. Time Warner cut off my internet services due to viruses. I used every virus/malware product that I could find. I finally took my computer to a shop. It was full of viruses/malware/adware. I have not been able to print from Smart Source since. When I called the shop and asked them to help me, I was told that Smart Source WAS my problem, and they highly recommended my attempting to install their coupon printer. I don't need coupons bad enough to get kicked off of the internet!
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#14
Quote from shanecrow99 View Post :
SmartSource uses client-side (i.e. registry and software) checks to see if you have printed more than one coupon. The way to get around that is to lock your PC down so that any changes made to your PC is not permanent. You can do this by using "Deep Freeze" from a company called "Faronics"
Another, easier to use option (my opinion of course) is Microsoft SteadyState located at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/...fault.mspx and works with both XP and Vista. After installing Microsoft SteadyState all changes made to the PC are removed by simply rebooting the computer, to include any changes made to the windows registry by activex controls.

Shanecrow99 is correct that SmartSource uses the windows registry to store the "unique id" they assign to your computer. One registry key to be exact.

-john
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#15
Quote from virtually_john View Post :
Another, easier to use option (my opinion of course) is Microsoft SteadyState located at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/...fault.mspx and works with both XP and Vista. After installing Microsoft SteadyState all changes made to the PC are removed by simply rebooting the computer, to include any changes made to the windows registry by activex controls.

Shanecrow99 is correct that SmartSource uses the windows registry to store the "unique id" they assign to your computer. One registry key to be exact.

-john
i dont understand how Microsoft SteadyState would work. doesn't it just control what programs can be used and installed on the pc or user account?
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