Reverse Engineering UltraEdit-32 4.40a
(Cracking "blacklisted" Hex/Text Editors)

by ReZiDeNt

(22 August 1997)

Courtesy of reverser's page of reverse engineering

Well, ReZiDeNt crack is NOT just the same of Aesculapius' one, it could on the countrary, I believe, be quite interesting for our readers to compare and use both sessions in their own Ultraedit session. Our "science" is still in an embryonale phase, and I believe that a well reversed target (and the more people work with different or slightly different approaches on a target the better this target will be reversed) can go quite a long way in letting readers understand the deep "black" power that a reverse engineer can acquire.

Reverse Engineering UltraEdit-32 4.40a by ReZiDeNt Cracking "blacklisted" Hex/Text Editors
NOTE: I know I'm not the only one to have cracked this - Aesculapius (hi!) and others have also done the same - but I saw there was a new +HCU section on hex editors, so I thought I'd contribute and hope it helps someone anyway... Tools needed: SoftICE 3 for Windows 95 W32Dasm (I used 8.9, but any version should do) A hex editor (eg UltraEdit itself :-) UltraEdit is a very useful text/hex editor with a variety of nice features (eg syntax highlighting, macros, spell checking etc). It's particularly useful when searching large text files (much faster than any commercial and bloated word processor) such as dead listings, and can also be used to patch your target on the fly! UltraEdit-32 4.40a (the versions are constantly changing) may be downloaded from: or I've been using various versions of UltraEdit for quite a while now, and I have cracked earlier versions using a number of different approaches. Reverser has written one very interesting essay on using Borland's Resource Workshop as a cracking tool, in which he shows how to crack a version of UltraEdit using only the BRW. Anyway, the other day I downloaded the latest version of UltraEdit (4.40a) and installed it. I had rather foolishly lost all my cracking notes relating to the previous versions of UltraEdit, so in order to crack it I would have to start from a 'clean slate'. The install progr informs you that the serial codes used in the last version of UltraEdit are no longer valid, and that you'll have to contact the distributor to get an updated serial number. This meant that grabbing any old serial off the Internet would not have worked (as if I would entertain such a lame idea in the first place). So to work. First of all I tried to take a look at the target with the BRW. This ingenious program can often reveal to you many hidden surprises concealed within modern 'bloatware'. But arrgghhh! It does not work :-( The BRW informs us that it has encountered an unknown file format - so we're going to have to crack this properly. Before attempting to crack a target, it is *essential* that you apply a little 'Zen' (courtesy of +ORC), and *think* about how the protection scheme must work. Observe the target in action, read the docs and help files carefully, and try out the registration options, making a note of the messages you get (eg 'Invalid code' etc). In the case of UltraEdit, upon starting the program, we are shown a a delayed nag screen which is shown while UltraEdit loads and for a few more seconds thereafter. This nag screen tells us the number of days left within our 45-day evaluation period, and offers us the chance to input a registration code. If you choose to input a registration code you will find that, rather unusually, a message box is displayed telling us that UltraEdit will need to be restarted in order to validate the code. If you look in the UltraEdit directory, you will very quickly see that there is a file named 'UEDIT32.REG', which contains the name and number you input, eg: [UserID] User Name=ReZiDeNt User Code=1212121212121212 So we can deduce that UltraEdit reads the name/code combination from the 'UEDIT32.REG' file at startup (use the excellent 'FileMon' utility if you want to make certain of this) - it then checks the code and if it is invalid, the 45-day time limit nag is shown. Now, when I first got this program I was in such a hurry to use it that I didn't bother to investigate it properly; I simply set a breakpoint on GetLocalTime and started from there, cracking the 45-day time limitation. But later when I had more time I realised that this was a sorry state of affairs, I simply had to crack it properly and/or generate a working name and code combination. So I disassembled it using W32Dasm, and took a look at the String Data References. Well, well, what do we see? If you look down right toward the end of the list of string references you will come across quite a few strings that look like user names (eg 'tHATDUDE', 'Kermu!' etc) and one that looks very much like a code ('X(wL13G+zW,d9r&A')! This program seems to incorporate yet another 'black list' protection scheme, whereby the handles of well-known crackers (such as 'tHATDUDE') and widely-distributed serial numbers are 'black listed'. If you enter 'tHATDUDE' as your user name, or 'X(wL13G+zW,d9r&A' as your serial number, you will find that upon restarting UltraEdit, 25 days have been subtracted from your trial period... Anyway, back to the crack...searching through the disassembled listing for strings such as 'Thank you for supporting Shareware' or 'UltraEdit 45 Day Evaluation time expired!!!!' doesn't work, as you'll find hundreds of possible references. To do this crack we need to locate where UltraEdit reads the name/code combination from the 'UEDIT32.REG' file. The following function is used by UltraEdit to retrieve the name and code: /* GetPrivateProfileString The GetPrivateProfileString function retrieves a string from the specified section in an initialization file. This function is provided for compatibility with 16-bit Windows-based applications. Win32-based applications should store initialization information in the registry jungle. DWORD GetPrivateProfileString( LPCTSTR lpAppName, // points to section name LPCTSTR lpKeyName, // points to key name LPCTSTR lpDefault, // points to default string LPTSTR lpReturnedString, // points to destination buffer DWORD nSize, // size of destination buffer LPCTSTR lpFileName // points to initialization filename ); */ OK, so we set a breakpoint on GetPrivateProfileStringA ('bpx GetPrivateProfileStringA') and run UltraEdit. SoftICE will break and you should see the following * Reference To: KERNEL32.GetPrivateProfileStringA, Ord:0112h | :00405CA6 FF150C0C4A00 Call dword ptr [004A0C0C] :00405CAC 8D862A020000 lea eax, dword ptr [esi+22A] ;load username address into eax Type 'db eax' to see the user name you entered. Now set a breakpoint on the memory location where the name is stored (we want to try and see how/where it is manipulated/compared): bpm eax Now remove the breakpoint on GetPrivateProfileStringA and let UltraEdit run. SoftICE will snap *three* times - each of these three times the name is being manipulated and copied etc. IGNORE these for now and wait until the *fourth* (and final) time SoftICE snaps. Now press 'P RET' to get back to the code that called this routine. You'll see the following: :00405697 E8D4900300 call 0043E770 ; this is where SoftICE snaps :0040569C 59 pop ecx :0040569D 85C0 test eax, eax :0040569F 59 pop ecx :004056A0 7520 jne 004056C2 ; jumps from here... * Referenced by a Jump at Address:004056A0(C) | :004056C2 85DB test ebx, ebx ; to here! :004056C4 743C je 00405702 :004056C6 8D45C0 ***** lea eax, dword ptr [ebp-40] ;load good code :004056C9 50 push eax :004056CA 8D4580 ***** lea eax, dword ptr [ebp-80] ;load(cleaned) ;code you entered :004056CD 50 push eax :004056CE E89D900300 call 0043E770 ;compares the codes :004056D3 59 pop ecx :004056D4 85C0 test eax, eax :004056D6 59 pop ecx :004056D7 741E ***** je 004056F7 ;jump nice buyer! :004056D9 8D8540FFFFFF lea eax, dword ptr [ebp-00C0] ;load alternative code :004056DF 50 push eax :004056E0 8D4580 lea eax, dword ptr [ebp-80] ;load(cleaned) ;code you entered :004056E3 50 push eax :004056E4 E887900300 call 0043E770 ;compare the codes :004056E9 59 pop ecx :004056EA 85C0 test eax, eax :004056EC 59 pop ecx :004056ED 7408 je 004056F7 ;jump nice buyer! :004056EF 8935088D4900 mov dword ptr [00498D08], esi :004056F5 EB0B jmp 00405702 ; else beggar-off Interesting! So there are actually *two* valid code for the user name that you entered: one that consists of jumbles ASCII characters and one that looks more like a traditional registration code. The first valid code is located at [ebp-40], while the second code is locate at [ebp-00C0]. So to find a valid name/code combination, simply enter your name (over 6 chars) and enter any number. Then break above and type: db ebp-40 ; this will show the first valid code db ebp-00C0 ; this will show the second valid code Doing this we can see that valid name/code combinations are: Name: ReZiDeNt Code: Y5?k!#:G;}cR6$/C Or Name: ReZiDeNt Code: JZCBXAXR63921627 Alternatively, we can also patch the target to make it accept any name/code. Simply replace :004056D7 741E je 004056F7 ;jump if valid code with :004056D7 EB1E jmp 004056F7 ;jump always! search for: 0x59741E8D8540FFFFFF replace with: 0x59EB1E8D8540FFFFFF ^^ BTW, remember I said that the name/code is stored in a file named 'UEDIT32.REG'? It is also stored in the 'UEDIT32.INI' file located in the Windows directory. Interestingly, you can't simply rip the name/code out of these files - the code in encrypted, so that if you just copy the code out of the INI or REG file and try to enter it into your own copy, it will not work. This was probably intended to deter lamer from copying codes, but it offers little protection against us +crackers! :-) Keep cracking! ReZiDeNt - 1997
(c) ReZiDeNt 1997. All rights reserved
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