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Cracking File Read Aloud v1.1
(the chmod indicator)

(Courtesy of reverser's pages of reverse engineering ~ December 1998)


Cracking File Read Aloud v1.1
(the chmod indicator)

+Xdaemon / 98'
24 December 1998

Well, a nice little essay for beginners, with an useful (handy) hint: almost anytime that a protection scheme hides something in a file, it will us the chmod function. In good old C it was like this:
int chmod(path, pmode);
char *path;	Path name of existing file
int pmode;	Permission setting for file

Where the meaning of the pmode argument can be either S_IWRITE, S_IREAD or S_IREAD|S_IWRITE
If write permission is not given, the file is made read-only (under DOS it is not possible to give write only permission).
The chmod function returns the value zero if the permission setting is successfully changed, else -1 in case of error (with errno set to ENOENT). Have fun with this essay.

Cracking File Read Aloud v1.1

+Xdaemon / 98'

- [Cracking Time] : 10 Mins Including D/L
- [Location     ] : Http:// if you wish to 'crack along'.
- [Tools Needed ] : Wdasm/Disassembler & Hex Editor

	Ok we've got the target, a horrible attempt at speech synthesis which
uses .wav files for every word it tries to (90% of the time incorrectly) 
We're not interested in the program at all, I tried it for 30 seconds (Thanks, 
I don't need 30 days to make up my mind) and decided it would have been history 
as soon as it was cracked, this is merely to possibly learn a little
about cracking and to fend off boredom.

    Before doing anything when cracking you should read the documentation, it 
offers valuable clues about the products protection or lack there of. 
According to the Readme.txt in the distributions .zip file the product will 
only execute 30 times before deactivating itself. 
I actually tried it just to make sure it did it, as some programs bluff, you 
can take my word or try it yourself if it amuses you. 
We are also informed that the program can't be registered but 
you will need to download a new unrestricted version after you register.
I was 99% positive the protector wasn't lying because A) He doesn't seem 
intelligent enough to implement any reg scheme, and the program has no 
registration menu's etc. of anykind, as well as no hits on "regi" with a 
hex editor except for the one "Unregistered Version 1.1" for the main
window, and B) He "sells" you the registered version by giving you a url 
via email where you can download (non pw protected it sounds like) it 
which sounds real bootleg.

	The first thing I tried was using Win Registry Expose to see if the
program reads or writes any keys in the registry. (This was quicker for me than
loading wdasm and checking the imports, or even searching quickview's output 
but either of those would have found "0" results just as easily). 
I'm starting to think the program stores the counter either in itself or in 
another file now, so I copied the exe to a backup file name and reran it. 

fc /b fra.exe bak.exe

gives "0 differences encountered" afterwards. 
Ok, it's not modifying a value stored in itself, so it either modifies something 
like a bad sector, a "leftover" space in your cmos, or just another file it 
decides to make. So -judging from the caliber of the author- we can now deduce
that the day counter is stored in another file somewhere. If you load the program 
into wdasm and look at the imports you will see one with the ending "_chmod", 
this function obviously changes file attributes, we now know almost certainly that 
the file will be hidden, read only, etc.
	Load the program into any good hex editor and look near the end and you
shall find : "c:\fzarcsa.zlz". This doesn't seem to have any valid use, except
possibly holding the day count. Before that string is the same string with  
.rb & .wb tacked onto the end, this is how the compiler "built" the file open 
calls they he used to open the file...

 fp=fopen( "c:\fzarcsa.zlz","rb");. 

We can now crack this program using the following
batch file to start "fra", calling fra.bat instead of calling fra.exe :
					attrib -s -h -r c:\*.zlz
					del c:\*.zlz

	Of course we want to strive for a little more class than that, so fire
up wdasm again and export the file to an .alf of your choice. Load it into a good
editor, or even m$ wordpad, and get ready to search. We know the program is going to
be checking if an input byte (the file was in the format ubyte:days,0) is equal to 
30 decimal.
We could just look for a close fread/fwrite pair in order to find this but we want to 
hit it right on the head, so look for  0000001E in the file. 

Nothing. I was stumped for about a tenth of a second here, couldn't believe that 
this programmer was above potatohead level, then I got it! 
Try 001E instead, and forgetting the occurrences inside addresses, you will hit 
the first (and only) one that is inside in an instruction.	
- You'll end up here...

* Possible Reference to Menu: MenuID_0001 
:0002.3C02 6A01                   push 0001
:0002.3C04 6A02                   push 0002
:0002.3C06 16                     push ss
:0002.3C07 8D866CFF               lea ax, [bp+FF6C]      - FILE READ BUFFER LOCATION
:0002.3C0B 50                     push ax
:0002.3C0C 9AFFFF0000             call BC450RTL._fread
:0002.3C11 83C40C                 add sp, 000C
:0002.3C14 FFB670FF               push word ptr [bp+FF70]
:0002.3C18 FFB66EFF               push word ptr [bp+FF6E]
:0002.3C1C 9AFFFF0000             call BC450RTL._fclose
:0002.3C21 83C404                 add sp, 0004

* Referenced by a Jump at Address:0002.3BF8(C)
:0002.3C24 83BE6CFF1E             cmp word ptr [bp+FF6C], 001E - F_INPUT DCOUNT BYTE <=> 30 ?
:0002.3C29 7E08                   jle 3C33                     - IF <= 30 then jmp STILL_IN_TRIAL

* Possible Reference to Menu: MenuID_0001 
:0002.3C2B 6A01                   push 0001                    - BEGGAR OFF, used > 30 times                
:0002.3C2D 9AFFFF0000             call 0001.09FFh              - "QUIT" ROUTINE
:0002.3C32 59                     pop cx

* Referenced by a Jump at Address:0002.3C29(C)
:0002.3C33 FF866CFF               inc word ptr [bp+FF6C]      - DCOUNT++ before writing to file
:0002.3C37 1E                     push ds
:0002.3C38 687C1B                 push 1B7C
:0002.3C3B 1E                     push ds
:0002.3C3C 686D1B                 push 1B6D


* Possible Reference to Menu: MenuID_0001 
:0002.3C69 6A01                   push 0001
:0002.3C6B 6A02                   push 0002
:0002.3C6D 16                     push ss
:0002.3C6E 8D866CFF               lea ax, [bp+FF6C]          - LOCATION OF INCREMENTED DCOUNT
:0002.3C72 50                     push ax
:0002.3C73 9AFFFF0000             call BC450RTL._fwrite
:0002.3C78 83C40C                 add sp, 000C
:0002.3C7B FFB66AFF               push word ptr [bp+FF6A]
:0002.3C7F FFB668FF               push word ptr [bp+FF68]
:0002.3C83 9AFFFF0000             call BC450RTL._fclose
:0002.3C88 83C404                 add sp, 0004
:0002.3C8B 6A02                   push 0002

So how do we crack it now? You could do a lot of things here but there
is a principle known as "occum's razor" which states that the most simple method that 
works is invariably the most correct one. 
Below is the most simple method you could possibly come up with to
toast this protection.

OLD : 83BE6CFF1E7E08:cmp word ptr [bp+FF6C], 001E - F_INPUT DCOUNT BYTE <=> 30 ?
                     jle 3C33                     - IF <= 30 then jmp STILL_IN_TRIAL

NEW : 83BE6CFF1EEB08:cmp word ptr [bp+FF6C], 001E - F_INPUT DCOUNT BYTE <=> 30 ?
                     jmp 3C33                     - DISCARD RESULT, ALWAYS JUMP "STILL_IN_TRIAL"

	- If you want to have a little laugh have a look at the whole
readme.txt and look for a reference to "blindness", you will no doubt, agree 
with me that the author of this FRA target is not only unable, but also insane.

				- +Xdaemon 98'

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