Dongles are miniature computers with built-in memory, a microprocessor, and encryption functionality. This makes dongles suitable for both protecting software against piracy and for encrypting and signing all kinds of content access to which is controlled by the built-in DRM system of the dongle.
The Guardant Code dongle can execute custom code “onboard” the device. This feature of the dongles makes them suitable for creating various systems for managing digital rights of access to content and for monitoring content usage. Examples of implementation include a project to provide access to weather information in the airline industry and a project involving educational products with school textbooks licensed by publishing houses for distribution with a hardware DRM system.
The performance of modern USB dongles is close to 120 MIPS, with a purpose-built 32-bit microprocessor used as the hardware core. Keys can store up to 50,000 lines of code written in C/C++. This makes it possible to create highly sophisticated DRM systems and accomplish a number of associated tasks.