+HCU: Academy of Reverse Engineering


hcu97 Founded by +ORC in April 1996 hcu98


Your gateway to the +HCU databases

More than 300 Reverse engineering essays by various +ORC's students and friends

+HCU Database Navigation


The fundamental essays ESSAYS 001-100 page (2 Mar 1997 - 4 Sep 1997)
The required reading for newbies essays ESSAYS 100-200 page (4 Sep 1997 - 28 Dec 1997)
The beginner essays ESSAYS 200-300 page (28 Dec 1997 - 10 Jun 1998)
The intermediate essays  ESSAYS 300-400 page (10 Jun 1998 - to today)
The advanced essays 
+HCU Papers Our tools Our protections
Programmers Corner Packers & Unpackers Unassigned
Project 0: Wdasm reversing Project 1: Hexeditors & co Project 2: Softice & Numega's
Project 3: Dongles cracking Project 4: CD-Rom faking Project 5: Netscape ameliorating
Project 6: Crippled targets Project 7: Most stupid schemes Project 8: VisualBasic cracking
Project 9: Micro$oft bashing


Exegesis of a partition
(and a letter from +ORC)

Don't make the mistaken assumption that the most recent essays are the best ones! All the essays published by the +HCU are good (should you ever believe that one essay did not deserve to be published, please write EXPLAINING your point and I'll act if necessary). Some essays are really outstanding, and you'll find incredibly important essays among the first ones as well. Like so many things in life, the newest products are NOT automatically the best ones (this is for instance true also for wordprocessors, wines and university professors :-)

Peruse the essays at will, download what you like. It may appear daunting, yet actually I believe you should read all of them if you are seriously interested in software reverse engineering... you'll soon notice that some deal with much more interesting themes that mere protection busting: functionality adding, hidden functions re-enabling, software amelioration... and a lot of new other software reverse engineering tricks and fields. If you are seriously interested in software reverse engineering you should also read, I believe, my filemon serie, an attempt to completely reverse engineer a Windows 95 program. If you're a newbye, my cracking for dummies lessons could also be useful.

Don't forget the other tutorials either, that you'll be able to access from my other pages.

I know: there is a big need to organize better these essays. I intend to write some perl scripts, unfortunately I'm overloaded with work at the moment (my site, as you have probably seen, is a quite huge endeavor) and this takes a lot of time. If you want to help in this, by all means, do it. I believe that a good idea would be to gather YOUR opinions about which essays should be labeled "FUNDAMENTAL" reading, which should go under a "NEWBYES COMPULSORY READING" badge and which, if any, should be eliminated. Please write me your suggestions, for instance as 'lists' of the 10-20 essays you would advice a beginner, or an intermediate or an advanced reverser to read.

Here's a old letter from +ORC -about these essays- that pleased me very much:

...therefore fravia+ I conclude that the work on the "student essays" page is incredibly important for the whole cracker community (and even for your beloved shareware programmers :=) and I am certain that its effects will be huge, albeit delayed by the awkward snowball effect of the Web. I had never found available such a treasure of knowledge before and I gladly admit that I have learned a lot myself. I am happy to have contributed to the birth of the students' essays (have I really "founded" the site?) through my tutorial, which seems to me now wholly superseded by the cumulative (and much superior) knowledge offered by the essays...

...only one remark, may be: the DOS/UNIX world seems very neglected in the essays... everybody is cracking exclusively the newest applications for windoze, and that could be a mistake: many powerful protection schemes that have been developed in DOS long ago, are until now UNCRACKED, and are or will be used again for future (tough) software protection. Therefore, if I ever find the time to "finish" my remaining lessons, I will concentrate on older (yet tougher and not obsolete) protection schemes: I said that we must crack windoze in order to throw our seeds with the wind, true, but let's not forget that, as you know very well, a good knowledge of the past is the only tool you can relay on in order to foresee the future...

...You see fravia+, for the first time in the history of humanity knowledge can be spread for free and reach anybody who cares :=) I don't know if this contingency will last, coz many powerful forces are struggling against this. Should knowledge, their efforts notwithstanding, continue to flow in this way, it will change the face of the world as we know it. We are already now thoroughly involved in this, and your "students' essays" page is a very good example of a potential new dawn. We will see in due time... let us sip our cocktails and wait... as I told you, the repercussions, on the web are never immediate, yet the inertial effects of our work could be huge. Thank to your (and some other) sites, those who want to learn will now be able to begin learning (and teaching, which is the other side of the same extraordinary mirror) within very powerful frames. It was about time: maiora premunt!

The world of the near future will be a "world of software", an half-virtual world, where code will assume today unbelievable massive proportions, where "reality" will not count much for the pavlovian gullible beings that will forget their miserable slave conditions deafened by the concerted (and concocted) "virtuality" that they will Oh so much love. A world of software, a world of code, and therefore, as usual, a world of hidden codes and hidden meanings (as if the world we live in now did not have already enough of them :=(

I just hope that many of our "students" will soon tackle the more complex and even less rewarding task of cracking the reality they live in... hoc opus, hic labor: software protections are only a tiny part of the "unknown" world around us, albeit a very useful playground to flex your "reversing muscles". Our students and friends will have the difficult (and seldom rewarding) task of finding the keys of its concealed doors, in order to donate them to all those who care, to all those that our enemies are determined to leave outside. In fact they "must" remain out in order to allow fat profits for a minority. This future code world will be a scary world indeed if we don't modify (or destroy) the rails our societies are now running on: the data (common UN-data, everybody could have access to them, nobody does) show that the quintile of the richest countries of this world (count all countries and divide them in five groups according to their per capita product) has now (1996) an 88% share of the world INCOME (it was 74% in 1965). The remaining four quintiles of countries get now only the 12% (it was 26% in 1965).

Moreover inside each country (rich and poor alike) takes place an analogous "development" in favor of the richest part of the population... that's the current "progress of humanity" stand behind all bla-bla-bla: rich get richer, poor get poorer... a nice society indeed, headed at full speed against a brick wall.
I advice you to fasten your seat belt and to seat next to an emergency exit.
Like cracking.

Work well, +ORC

Well, Master +ORC has always been a little catastrophic, yet I believe too that reality cracking is most important, yet I hope that +he will overcome his legendary laziness and send us +his "zen" lessons as soon as possible, because we need +his guide and +his help, now more than ever (enough! Complete and send your bloody lessons! :-)

Let's think to the future of this section: once more, I see many classification possibilities for the essays, but I would like to hear your opinion. I hope that the +HCUkers will answer to me (or put their thoughts on the good HCU's newsletter), but, as usual, any friend that cares is welcomed to comment (or help in) the development of my site.

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