+HCU: Academy of reverse engineering
||Founded by +ORC in April 1996
+HCU 1998: A real university
(29 October 1997)
Greetings, new and old friends, I owe you some explanations.
And I have some work for you.
I'll tell you a (minor) secret: when I started publishing my tutorial
on Usenet, back in 1995, I did not know exactly where I would have landed.
My idea, to put it simply, was to take advantage of the might of Internet in
terms of anonymity, international dimension, easy access and "just in time"
modifiability, in order to spread a very simple message using (as major vector)
software cracking... this I deemed necessary coz verba movent, exempla trahunt.
My message was threefold:
- knowledge should from now on be free, we should not allow any barrier
whatsoever any more;
- everybody should not only be allowed, but also helped to develop his
- the consum oriented society wherein we are compelled to live is NOT
free, nor correct, nor the best possible one, far from it. We must
help others, blinded by a well-concerted propaganda, to realise this.
If you examine these three sentences, you'll see that they support each other
and that these same principle have been, many centuries ago, at the basis
of the foundation of the "real" universities all over Europe.
The word "university" is in itself a sort of synonym for "international
dimension"... indeed knowledge does not care about national or physical frontiers,
nor worries about different social systems, racial or gender differences.
Language of course can (and did) represent a problem for the diffusion of
knowledge (and more generally for the relations between humans), yet the english
'pidgin' used to-day on the Web is a good (albeit emendable) solution. The fact
that many among us are NOT English native speakers seems fortunately to represent
a negligible problem nowadays.
Now, you see, in our to-day world knowledge is often (if wrongly) connected
to software. Software importance is due to its paramount importance for all
modern scientific disciplines. These are deemed important in order to create
(and sell) the incredible amount of useless gadgets that let this society
roll on towards its own well deserved doom.
Note -incidentally- that 'humanistic' disciplines are nowadays reserved
only to the very rich people, poor slaves are not supposed at all
to study greek or latin, or poetry or philosophy... vita sine litteris mors
est! Young 'university level' slaves are tricked into following scientific
'trends' which may be useful for a short span, but whose short life will
secure to the same gullible slaves an unemployed or under-employed miserable
status later on. Or does anyone of you think that he could get teached in
some other 'real world' university 'trend' courses that what he is
Anyway I felt that it was pretty important to use in this context the only
scalpel I know of, since software and Internet are indeed a knowledge vector.
This scalpel of mine is (you have guessed it :=) a cracking attitude.
When I started the +HCU project, inside my "C" lessons, in April 1996, I
basically wanted to find some help: i.e. someone else capable of disclosing
our art, some fellow crackers capable of carrying on and ameliorate the
kind of work I was trying to do.
The "Instant Access" strainer was -alas!- much too hard for the "scene"
knowledge of that time (I believe that now many of you would crack that
crap much more easily). And I got very few answers. My luck was that I
have found very good students among those few.
Unfortunately in the last two semesters I was taken by other projects
(which have much more to do with 'history cracking' than with software
cracking as +gthorne knows :=) and I did not have the time to follow my
very good (and few) students.
Yet their work nonetheless (or may be for this very reason :=) went
beyond all my expectancies: reverser+ and +gthorne, with the help of +Sync,
did develop something that surpasses by far, for contents and available
free knowledge, anything I had ever seen on the net before.
A real "Academy" (as reverser+ has called it) of software deprotection
that serves already now as comprehensive reference for all 'protectionists'
and de-protectionists alike (and you should hear the deference and
admiration that has been expressed by some 'very high' software bonzes
for many of the essays that have been published there :=)
The "Microsoft" strainer of April 1997 inside my lesson 4.2 found a much
greater audience. Potius sero, quam nunquam. Inside our 1998 +HCU courses
we will have a dozen of students, clearly too many to be followed and tutored
as they deserve by me alone.
I will therefore create once more various 'units', but this time I'll
try to place inside each one of them some experienced crackers together
with some less experienced ones. each unit will be targeted towards some
specific project (yet of course anyone will be able to swap courses if
he likes so).
Next year we will therefore have a REAL university (or at least the
beginning of it). It will of course be completely free, for anybody that
has deserved it through is work.
I'll personally invite some "famous" crackers (friends of mine) to give
you "ad hoc" (or ad personam) specific courses... and during our 1998
academic year we will meet (figuratively speaking :=) some eminent "hacker"
The "real" universities of yesterday have also been a cosmopolite meeting
point... people from many nations and languages and social situations have
brought there their personal contribution... this allowed formidable
progresses and an incredible evolution of the societies of those times.
Our society has come to an awful regression point. Useless nationalism
and petty provincial attitudes are rampant (even inside the 'real world'
universities :=( while at the same time few international commercial oligarchs
are dominating the whole world as if it where a conquered "Unicum".
Everything seems to be geared towards consume and money, as if the main
wish of humanity should consist in an 'hamster' life, hoarding useless
gadgets and munching them with full cheeks while loosing at the same time
more and more all the precious attributes that form the "quality of life".
Software will be used in that sense too: giving them more and more
VIRTUAL life quality and hiddenly stealing the last real bits of it.
Our university will be really 'universal'... some of you may -already
now- have many friends from different continents, good friends
that they may never have met, but that they read and/or hear every day,
friends that 'in the real world' come in all varieties of colours,
religions, beliefs and costumes. It's the human race coming together
anew after dozen of thousands of years, something that our forefathers
could only have dreamed of. It's a vulcan we are sitting on, and we should
contribute to crack it open.
In fact for once in history our diversities make us STRONG instead than
feeble. They help us to develop even quicker than our masters. It's an old
lesson: when the provincialism of a closed society is broken,
when input and ideas can circulate freely (and the anonymity of the web
plays a very important catalitic role in all this) then an incredible
rhythm can be conveyed to the development of each one of us.
Let's also not forget that our very craving for knowledge, together with
our longing for justice, represents already now a considerable power, a
power that some of our enemies are beginning to feel. We are at the right
place in the right moment, don't forget it never.
I would like to try to perform an 'assessment' of the capabilities of
each one of you that goes byond the (easy) strainer that you have solved
this sommer. You are not compelled to take part to this 'project', and
since you passed the strainer you'll be admitted to the courses on the
first of January anyway, of course, yet if you only find the time, I
would like you all to partecipate, I would like more elements to 'group'
you for the courses.
Besides I believe that this project is interesting per se (I got the idea
for this project from lazy reverser+ :=)
The Acrobat project, preparation for the 1998 +HCU courses
ACROBAT FORMAT FILES security settings have not yet been cracked,
AFAIK, and therefore this makes the target a very nice (and very
interesting and very important) project to work on.
Acrobat format files are those *.pdf files in portable document
format that you can only read (yet not write) with the free Adobe
reader. The idea behind this being, as usual, common greed. If Adobe
had given to anybody reader and acrobat (writer) for free, this (very
good) format would have been by now the standard on the web.
Yet they just wanted to make money. Result: only few people are using
this. We'll change all this right now!
First (this should be easy if you work in group):
Defeat the security settings: a PDF document author can choose to
restrict access to a file by requiring an open password or
by restricting the use of certain tools and commands.
If a file requires an open password, you must enter the password to view
the file. When a file has restricted access, any restricted tools and
menu items are dimmed. We don't like 'restricted access' per definition,
so crack this :=)
Second (this is a little more difficult, but you'll have great
satisfaction if and when you master it): a good comprehension of this pdf
format will allow you to quickly write a *.txt ==> *.pdf file converter
which we will then distribute (of course for free) on the net.
Yes, we'll do now that what Adobe should have madeby itself long ago.
De nihilo, nihil:
You'll find some first info (and you'll be able to download reader) at
At the beginning of your work you'll quikly find out that there
is already a first (bad) attempt at cracking this format on the web.
Actually it is not a 'crack', but a programmer that wanted to port
acrobat to another platform (and had some problems with Adobe, of
course). You'll be able to download there some files specifications
that will spare you a lot of work.
You'll have to perform some social engineering as well, in order to
get the info you need: that is good, a good cracker IS a social engineer.
I believe you'll have to work a little to crack this project which
will teach you a lot in my opinion, and there is another advantage:
THIS CAN BE SOLVED ONLY IF YOU WORK TOGETHER, i.e. not alone, try
by yourself to form little groups, you'll see how quikly you'll get
to the solution thattaway.
by reverser+ (29 October 1997)
Well, I received this four
hours ago from
+ORC's hotmail identity (as usual the original ID that hotmail lets through when you
send from it is useless:
some 'spare' one month trial AOL account that +he just fakes, uses and
throws away :-)
and I decided to publish immediately. Indeed I seem to have
(unvoluntarly) given him this whole idea: I wrote him that I had received
some (pretty good) tutorials by Ghiribizzo, yet these were in *.pdf protected
format, and I did not wanted to publish them as such. I told him that I had
only Adobe Reader, and that i did not have Adobe Acrobat.
His answer was typical:
Well crack them nevertheless. You don't need Acrobat to crack that crap,
Reader is more than enough... and come to think of it, once you have
understood pdf, write a converter, that format would for sure look nice
for the essays... formositas dimidium dotis. Besides, having done it all
of your own will give you some more glory.
So I am very happy with this project, and I hope we all will succeed.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go to the
Back to the blackboard
Is reverse engineering legal?