Browse Definitions:
Definition

dongle

Contributor(s): Timothy Regas, William Collier, Pete Johson

A dongle (pronounced DONG-uhl) is a hardware key for securing access to a licensed software application and establishing a chain of trust. The software application uses encrypted communication to access the hardware key and verify the legitimacy of a license before the program will run. Due to the high per-unit cost, dongles are typically used to authenticate proprietary business-to-business (B2B) and business to government (B2G) applications.

Originally, dongles plugged into a parallel or serial port, but today, dongles can also be used in universal serial bus (USB) and flash memory card ports. If more than one application requires a dongle, multiple dongles can be plugged into available ports or into hubs. Over the years, dongle technology has adapted to changing market needs. Today, instead of being plugged into an open port on a computer, dongle technology can also reside on a microchip soldered into a device in order to help secure the Internet of Things (IoT).

Software application producers partner with a dongle vendor to program each dongle with special ROM (read-only memory) that stores the app's security and licensing terms. Some high end units have as much as 51 kilobytes (KBs) of ROM to enable complex licensing and security schemes. The dongle vendor loads unique codes into some form of ROM so units are not interchangeable.

This was last updated in May 2017

Continue Reading About dongle

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • black hat

    Black hat refers to a hacker who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent.

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

SearchStorage

  • open source storage

    Open source storage is data storage software developed in a public, collaborative manner that permits the free use, distribution ...

  • CompactFlash card (CF card)

    A CompactFlash card (CF card) is a memory card format developed by SanDisk in 1994 that uses flash memory technology to store ...

  • email archiving

    Email archiving (also spelled e-mail archiving) is a systematic approach to saving and protecting the data contained in email ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close