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How To Crack HOT! Software Registration Code

Well, if you have ever used premium software, you might know that serial keys or key codes are mainly required during the installation. Sometimes, the Serial key might be necessary after using a program for a certain period.

how to crack software registration code


The cracked version removes the activation process. This way, you will no longer be asked to enter the activation key to activate the software. However, Cracked Software was also filled with viruses and malware.

In the most simplistic case, it is as maxwell5555 described. A registration code ("CD key") is sent to the user who enters it into the program or installer. The whole process can basically be done offline; the program itself locally determines that the code is valid or invalid.

Then we get into online registration. You still have some kind of code, but the program will phone home back to the server to determine whether the code is valid and usually unique. This stops basic key sharing, because the company knows if too many people from all over the world are all using the same key. Perhaps there is some kind of indentification involved using MAC address, too, with infinte registrations allowed on the same hardware but maybe a limited number on what appears to be a different computer.

Sometimes the program itself is partially/mostly encrypted and is only decrypted by the online registration step. Depending on how well this is obfuscated then it can be pretty difficult and time consuming to crack. Bioshock was a high-profile example of this - debuting with a brand new encryption/copy protection scheme that took around two weeks from release to be broken.

A common, simple way of implementing software activation/registration is to create a license algorithm. For example, lets say I have some shareware I want to protect and when someone gives me money, I send them a 4-byte registration code. I could build the algorithm into my shareware such that it validates the code the users enters. My algorithm would be as follows:

When the user enters a valid code, the software unlocks its regular functionality by setting a flag somewhere. Obviously, this is an extremely simplistic example. Registration validation algorithms can be as complex as you want.

Software "cracking" is the act of directly modifying the source code of a software applicationto bypass its licensing system entirely. As much as vendors hate to hear it: all applicationsinstalled on an end-users device are susceptible to cracking.

Software cracks usually only work for a single version of a particular application, sincethe application code itself is modified to bypass any license checks (meaning a softwareupdate often requires an updated crack for the new application code.) Distributing acracked version of an application falls on the bad actor.

Some applications will have a central point in the bytecode where this check happens, but othersharden their system by inlining the license key checks, making the work of a bad actor wanting tocrack the software much, much harder. But licensing is all essentially the same: it's a seriesof conditionals.

But remember, a crack != a keygen, so your application's licensing always runsthe risk of being circumvented via code modification. But license keys cannotbe forged when you utilize a licensing system built on modern cryptography.

I originally wrote this article for Quora. Here is an updated version of it, where I expanded it without feeling any constrains of the Quora platform. This article is primary intended for "normal people", or non-engineers that don't spend their day trying to figure out how software works, and are just interested to learn the basic technical concepts of the "software cracking" and the "software piracy".

By saying "software cracking" or just "cracking" (for brevity), I will assume the process under which the original piece of software (be it a paid version of a commercial application, or a game) is modified in a way that was not originally intended by the developer of that software.Such modification usually entails removal of the parts of the original software that would ensure validity of the software license (for commercial software), orwould give certain player a biased advantage in a game.

By saying "source code", I imply the text representation of the software code (or instructions) that was used to compile the software. While "compilation" is theprocess of conversion of the source code into executable machine instructions that can be read and executed by a computer to "run the software". By its nature the source code is much easier for a human to read and understand than compiled machine code. And thus, source code files usually become a closely guarded secret for many commercial software products. (On the contrary, "open-source" softwareprovides its source code in the open for everyone to see.)

Cracked versions of software are created with the use of debuggers. (A debugger is a special type of software that lets programmers deconstruct their software into its constituent parts for the purpose of finding bugs, and thus de-bugging. Additionally debuggers can be also used for reverse engineering, or for the process that allows researchers to see what is inside the software, or to learn its logic.The latter method is used mostlyby malware researchers to study what malware (or computer viruses) do on-the-inside. But it can be also used by an attacker to "crack" (or bypass) legal software registration, or at times, to alter normal behavior of software, for instance, by injecting a malicious code into it.)

For the sake of this example, I will assume that the software that is being "cracked" was compiled into a native code, and is not a .NET or a JavaScript based application.(Otherwise it will be somewhat trivial to view its source code.) The compiled native code is a bit more tricky "beast" to study. (Native means that the code executes directly by CPU, GPU, or other hardware.)

So let's assume that the goal of an attacker is to bypass the registration logic in the software so that he or she doesn't have to pay for it. (Later for lolz, he or she may also post such "crack" on some shady online forum or on a torrent site so that others can "use" it too and give him or her their appreciation.)

In this code sample RegistrationName and RegistrationCode are special strings of text that a legitimate software user will receive after paying for the license. (The name is usually that person's actual name or their email address, and the code is some string of unique/special characters that is tied to the name.)

Or, if the registration code and name matched, it will save the registration details in persistent storage (such as the File System or System Registry) using the function named rememberRegistrationParameters() and then display the message thanking the user for registering:

A "cracker" (which is my lazy way of abbreviating the term "software cracker") will obviously want to achieve the second result for any registration code that he or she enters. But they have a problem. They do not have the C++ source code, part of which I showed above. (I hope not!)

So the only recourse for an attacker is to disassemble the binary code (that always ships with software in the form of .exe and .dll files on Windows, and mostly as Unix executables inside the .app packages on a Mac.) An attacker will then use a debugger to study the binary code and try to locate the registration logic that I singled out above.

I also need to point out that having a disassembly snippet like the one above is the final result for an attacker. The main difficulty for him or her is to locate it among millions and millions of other similar lines of code. And that is their main challenge. Not many people can do it and that is why software "cracking" is a special skill.

The first choice is quite straightforward. Since an attacker got this far, he or she knows the Intel x64 Instruction Set quite well. So if they simply change the conditional jump from jnz short loc_7FF645671430 at the address 00007FF645671418 (circled in red in the screenshots) to unconditional jump, or jmp short loc_7FF645671430, this will effectively remove any failed registration code entries and anything that the user types in will be accepted as a valid registration.

The second choice is a little bit more tricky. Here an attacker will have to study isRegistrationCodeGood() function and copy it into his or her own small program that will effectively duplicate the logic implemented in the original software and will allow to generate the registration code for any name, thus giving any unscrupulous user of that software an ability to register it without making a payment.

Vendors of many major software products understand the potential impact of the second method and try to prevent it by requiring what is known as "authentication." This is basically a second step after registration, where the software submits registration name to the company's web server that returns a response back to the software of whether the code was legitimate or not. This is done by Microsoft when you purchase Windows (they call it "Activate Windows") and also by Adobe, and many other companies. This second step may be done behind-the-scenes in the background while the software is running, and will usually lead to cancellation of prior registration if it was obtained illegally.

Let me now answer why it is not possible to prevent software cracking. It all boils down to the fact that any software code needs to be read either by CPU (in case of a binary native code)or by an interpreter or a JIT compiler (in case of JavaScript or .NET code.) This means that if there's a way to read & interpret something, then no matter how complex or convoluted the software code logic is, an attacker with enough knowledge and persistence will be able to read it as well, and thus find a way to "break it" like I described above.

There is an argument though that cloud-based software is more secure. Which is true, since its (binary) code remains on the server and end-users do not have direct access to it. And even though cloud-based software is definitely the future, it has some major drawbacks that will never allow it to fully replace your conventional software. To name just a few: 350c69d7ab


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