A software access control system is disclosed for controlling access to a protected application program. The software access control system comprises first and second processors, each having a terminal or port adapting its processor to be coupled with the other. The first processor is programmed to permit access to the protected application program and comprises a first memory storing the protected application program, a program identification manifestation and a customer identification manifestation. The second processor comprises a second memory for storing a program identification manifestation and a customer identification manifestation, as assigned to the second processor. A user terminal is actuated to transmit an access request message including a requested program identification manifestation to the first processor requesting permission to execute a particular application program. There is disclosed a two-step process of granting access to a protected application program. First, the requested program identification manifestation, as entered on the user terminal, is compared with a program identification manifestation retained within the second processor. If there is a first match, a customer authentication message is transmitted from the first processor to the second processor. In response, the second processor transmits its assigned customer identification manifestation to the first processor, wherein a comparison is made between the retained customer identification manifestation and the assigned customer identification transmission. If there is a second match, access to use and to execute the application program is granted.