LESSON C (1) - How to crack, Cracking as an art


     First of all, let me stress the importance of cracking in
our everyday life. Cracking it's not just about software, it's
about information, about all patterns of life. To crack is to
refuse to be controlled and used by others, to crack is to be
free. But you must also be yourself free from petty conventions
in order to crack properly.
     You must learn to discerne cracking possibilities all around
yourself, and believe me, the development of this ghastly society
brings every day new codes, protections and concealing
     All around us grows a world of codes and secret and not so
secret patterns. Codes that are at times so familiar and common
that we do not even notice them any more... and yet they are
there to fool us, and yet they offer marvellous cracking

     Let's take as an striking example BARCODES... those little
lines that you see on any book you buy, on any bottle you get,
on any item around you... do you know how they work? If you do
not you may be excused, but you cannot be excused if you never
had the impulse to understand them... crackers are curious by
nature... heirs of an almost extinct race of researchers that has
nothing in common with the television slaves and the publicity
and trend zombies around us. Cracker should always be capable of
going beyond the obvious, seek knowledge where others do not see
and do not venture.

     Let's begin with a little history. Universal Product Code
(UPC) was adopted for commercial use by the grocery industry in
the USA. Among the advantages were a rapid, accurate and reliable
way of entering stock information into a computer and the
possibility to sack a lot of workers and to do more profit. The
early success led to the development of the European Article
Numbering System (EAN), a symbology similar to UPC, that is
widely used in Europe and in the rest of the World. I'll teach
you to crack this one, since I do not -fortunately- live in the
States. Keep in mind, anyway, that there are different barcode
symbologies, each with its own particular pattern of bars. The
UPC/EAN code used on retail products is an all-numeric code; so
is the Interleaved 2 of 5 Code. Code 39 includes upper case
letters, digits, and a few symbols. Code 128 includes every
printable and unprintable ASCII character code. The most new one
is a 2-D code. These are special rectangular codes, called
stacked barcodes or matrix codes. They can store considerably
more information than a standard barcode. They require special
readers which cost more than a standard scanner. The practical
limit for a standard barcode depends on a number of factors, but
20 to 25 characters is an approximate maximum. For applications
that need more data, matrix codes are used. For example, the next
time you receive a package from United Parcel Service look for
a small square label with a pattern of dots and a small bullseye
in the centre. This is a MaxiCode label, and it is used by UPS
for automatic destination sortition.
     The manufacturer's ID number on the barcode uniquely
identifies products. These numbers are managed by the Uniform
Code Council in Dayton, Ohio for the States and Canada and by the
EAN authority (Internationale Article Numbering Association) in
Bruxelles, for Europe and the rest of the World. The
manufacturer's ID number accounts for some digits of the code,
which leaves other digits to be assigned in any way the producer
wants. He provides retail outlets with a list of his products and
their assigned codes so that they can be entered in the cash
register system. Many codes are NOT on the products and are added
by the supermarkets on the fly, using an internal code schema
that may be non standard. Now it's enough... let's crack.
     BARCODES are the only thing an automated casher needs to see
on a product to calculate its price and automatically catalogate
the sold merchandise... imagine (just imagine it :=) coz it would
be extremely illegal to act in this way) somebody would fasten
an adhesive home-made codebar label direct on the top of the
supermarket/mall/retail store label, say on a bottle of Pomerol
(that's a very good but unfortunately very expensive french
     The new label would mean for the casher something like
"cheap wine from Bordeaux, France, cost so and so, everything
it's OK, do not worry"... do you think that anybody would come
to the idea that there is something wrong with the label, with
the bottle or with you? I have been codebaring for years and had
only once a problem, coz my printer was running out of ink and
the scanner in the supermarket could not read it... so what? Act
uninterested, always wear jackets of the utmost quality, shetland
pullovers and beautiful expensive shoes... (all articles that you
may codebar too, by the way), in this society appearance and look
count much more than substance and knowledge... LET'S USE THIS
TO OUR ADVANTAGE! Nobody will ever come to the idea that you may
actually really know the working of the scheme... coz codebar is
pretty complicated and not exactly exceptionally public. On the
Web there are a lot information about it, but most of them are
useless, unless you know how to search most of the time you'll
find only sentences like this one:
          "The calculated check digit is the twelfth and final
          digit in the U.P.C.code. It is calculated based on a
          specific algorithm, and is necessary to ensure that
          the number is read or key-entered correctly."

But good +ORC will now explain you everything you need to crack:

Each barcode label has 13 values, from #0 to #12 (that's the EAN
code, the UPC american one has only 12, from #0 to #11).
     #0 and #1 indicate the origin of the product.
     #2 to #11 give the article code
     #12 (the last and 13th one) is a checksum value, that
     verifies the validity of all the other numbers.
How is it calculated? #12 is calculated in 4 steps
     VALUE A:  You sum odd position numbers (#0+#2+#4+#6+#8+#10)
     VALUE B:  You sum even position numbers and multiply by 3
     VALUE C:  You sum value A and value B
     VALUE D:  You mod value C (you divide by 10 and only keep
     the remaining units, a very widespread checking scheme as
     you'll see in the software part of this lesson)
     If the result is not zero, you subtract it from 10.
Now look at a barcode label, get some books or other barcoded
items and *watch* it...
Bar codes are supposed to have "quiet zones" on either side of
the symbol. Quiet zones are blank areas, free of any printing or
marks,typically 10 times the width of the narrowest bar or space
in the bar code. Failure to allow adequate space on either side
of the symbol for quiet zones can make it impossible to read the
bar code.

On the barcode there are two "borders", left and right, and a
"middle" longer line. These three lines are longer than the
others and are used to "regulate" the scanner to whatever
dimension has been used for the barcode.
#0 dwells left of the first (left) border and has a special
meaning, the other 12 numbers are written "inside" the code and
are divided in two "groups" by the middle bar.
Each value is coded through SEVEN bars: black=1 and White=0.
These form two couples of "optic" bars of different widths.
We come now to the "magic" part: In order to bluff the
simpletons, barcode uses three different SETS of characters to
represent the values 0-9. This should make it impossible for you
to understand what's going on, as usual, in this society, slaves
should not need to worry with the real functioning of things.
   Here are the graphic codes of the three graphic sets:

     CODE A            CODE B (XOR C)    CODE C (NOT A)
0:  0001101   (13)     0100111   (39)    1110010   (114)
1:  0011001   (25)     0110011   (51)    1100110   (102)
2:  0010011   (19)     0011011   (27)    1101100   (108)
3:  0111101   (61)     0100001   (33)    1000010   (066)
4:  0100011   (35)     0011101   (29)    1011100   (092)
5:  0110001   (49)     0111001   (57)    1001110   (078)
6:  0101111   (47)     0000101   (05)    1010000   (080)
7:  0111011   (59)     0010001   (17)    1000100   (068)
8:  0110111   (55)     0001001   (09)    1001000   (072)

9:  0001011   (11)     0010111   (23)    1110100   (116)

Borders:       101
Centre:        01010

- The C graphic set is a "NOT A" graphic set.
- The B graphic set is a "XOR C" graphic set.
- each value has two couples of bars with different widths

 Now watch some labels yourself... see the difference between the
numbers left and the numbers right? The first "half" of the
barcode is coded using sets A and B, the second "half" using set
C. As if that were not enough, A and B are used inside the first
"half" in a combination that varies and depends from value #0,
following 10 different patterns:
              #1   #2   #3   #4   #5  #6
   0          A    A    A    A    A    A
   1          A    A    B    A    B    B
   2          A    A    B    B    A    B
   3          A    A    B    B    B    A
   4          A    B    A    A    B    B
   5          A    B    B    A    A    B
   6          A    B    B    B    A    A
   7          A    B    A    B    A    B
   8          A    B    A    B    B    A
   9          A    B    B    A    B    A

"Ah! Stupid buyer will never understand why the same values gives
different bars! Nothing is as reliable as barcodes!" :=)

Let's take as example the codebar for Martini Dry:
BARCODE:    8 0 00570 00425 7
Let's see: we have a 8 0 0 = booze
Then a 000570 as ABABBA and a 004257 as C
"Even" sum: 8+0+5+0+0+2 = 15 (even sum)
Then a 0+0+7+0+4+5= 16 and 16 *3 = 48 (odd sum)
Then a 15+48=63
63 === 3
10 - 3 = 7 = checksum
Pattern = 8 = ABABBA CCCCCC

OK, one more example: Osborne Windows programming series Volume
2 General purpose API functions (always here on my table)...
BARCODE: 9 7 80078 81991 9
Let's see: we have a 9 7 8 = book
Then a 780078 as ABBABA and a 819919 as C
"Even" sum: 9+8+5+8+8+4 = 42 (even sum)
Then a 7+1+5+2+4+4= 23 and 23 * 3 = 69 (odd sum)
Then a 42+69=111
111 === 1
10 - 1 = 9 = checksum
Pattern = 9 = ABBABA

Well... what's the point of all this?
The point, my pupils, is that who DOES NOT KNOW is taken along
on a boat ride, who KNOWS and LEARNS can use his knowledge in
order to try to beat blue and black the loathsome consumistic
oligarchy where we are compelled to live. Try it out for
yourself... if you crack correctly and wisely your supermarket,
mall and library bills will be cut to almost zero.
     Write a small program to print whichever codebar you fancy
(or whichever your mall uses) in whichever size on whichever sort
of label you (or better your targets) fancy... it's quickly done
with Visualbasic or Delphy... but you'll not find much on the Web
Alternatively you could also write, as I did long ago, a short
c program in dos, using a modified upper char set... and there
you are, have labels... see the world.
     A small word of caution... crack only ONE item at time and
try it out first with the SAME label for the same product... i.e.
the correct code for that item, but on your own label. If it goes
through your program works good, if not, nobody will ever be able
to harm you. Anyway it never happens anything, never: the bar
code reading equipments have great tolerance, coz the scanners
must be able to recognize barcodes that have been printed on many
different medias. You should choose labels similar to the ones
effectively used only in order not to arise human suspects, coz
for all the scanner itself cares, your label could be pink with
green stripes and with orange hand-written, numbers. Mind you,
we are still just academically imagining hypothetical situations,
coz it would be extremely illegal to act in such an inconsiderate
     CRACKING POWER! It's true for barcodes, for Telecom bills,
for Compuserve accounts, for Amexco cards, for banking cheques
(do you know what MICR is? Magnetic Ink Character Recognition...
the stylized little printing on the lower left of new cheques...
there is a whole cracking school working on it), for registration
numbers... you name it, they develope it, we crack it...
     Begin with barcodes: it's easy, nice and pretty useful! Live
in opulence, with the dignity and affluence that should always
distinguish real crackers. Besides... you should see the
assortment of 'Pomerols' in my "Cave-a-vin" :=)

     The (c) Instant access routines are a commercial protection
scheme used to "unlock" complete commercial applications that
have been encrypted on CD-
ROMs which are distributed (mostly) through reviews.
     This is an ideal cracking target: it's commercial software,
complete, uncrippled and of (relatively) prominent quality, that
you can get in tons for the price of a coke. Obviously this kind
of protection represents an ideal subject for our lessons. This
fairly intricate protection scheme has not yet been cracked by
anybody that I am aware of, anyway not publicly, therefore it's
an ideal candidate for a "strainer" to my university. I'll teach
you here how to crack it in three lessons, C.1, C.2 and C.3. I warn
you... it's a difficult cracking session, and this protection
represents quite an intellectual challenge. But if you are
seriously interested in our trade you will enjoy these lessons
more than anything else.
     This cracking is intended as an "assignment" for my +HCU
"cracking university": you'll find inside lessons C.1 and C.2 a
relatively deep "introduction" to Instant access cracking. This
will teach you a lot anyway, and spare you hours of useless
roaming around, bringing you straight to the cracking point. But
I'll release the third part of this session, with the complete
solution (lesson C.3) on the Web only in october 1996, not a day
before. All the students that would like to apply to the Higher
Cracking University, opening on the web 01/01/1997, should work
in July, August and September (three months is more than enough
time) on this assignment. They should crack completely the
instant access scheme and send me their solutions, with a good
documentation of their cracking sessions, before 30/09/1996
(WATCH IT! You can crack this scheme in -at least- three
different paths, be careful and choose the *best* one. WATCH IT! 
Some of the informations) in lesson C.1 and C.2 are slightly incorrect:
check it!).
There are four possibilities:
1)   The candidate has not found the crack or his solution is
     not enough documented or not enough viable... the candidate
     is therefore not (yet) crack-able, he will not be admitted
     to the +HCU 1997 curses, better luck in 1998;
2)   The cracking solution proposed by the candidate is not as
     good as mine (you'll judge for yourself in october) but it
     works nevertheless... he'll be admitted at the 1997
3)   The cracking solution of the candidate is more or less
     equal to mine, he'll be admitted, personally monitored, and
     he'll get all the material he needs to crack on higher
4)   The cracking solution of the candidate is better than mine,
     he'll be admitted, get all the material he wishes and asked
     to teach us as well as study with us: "homines, dum docent,

[Cracking Instant access]
     The user that wants to "unlock" a software application
protected with (c) Instant Access must enter first of all a
REGISTRATION number string, which through a series of
mathematical manipulations gives birth to a special "product"
code. On the basis of this "product code" the user is asked to
phone the commercial protectors (and pay) in order to get a
special "unlock code" that will allow him to decrypt the relevant
     This kind of "passnumber" protection routines are widely
used for software unlocking, BBS access, server access, backdoor
opening and many other protection schemes. We have already seen
password cracks in different lessons of this tutorial (in
particular Lessons 3.1 and 3.2 for DOS and Lessons 8.1, 8.2 and
9.1 for WIN) albeit on a more simplistic scale: there it did
mostly not matter very much *HOW* you passed the protection: once
passed, you could have access to the application. This is not the
case with (c) Instant Access. Face it: it's a little boring, but
important that you learn how to defeat intricate protection
routines (you'll meet them often in the next years) and I believe
that the following example will give you a "feeling" for the
right cracking approach.
     In this case we must not only "crack" this protection scheme
but also study it thoroughly in order to achieve our blessed
aims. This is a very good exercise: reverse disassembling will
teach you a lot of little tricks that you'll be able to use in
your other future cracking sessions.
     Instant access (c) is a exceptionally widespread protection
scheme, and it should be relatively easy for you to gather some
encrypted software that has been protected with this method...
*DO IT QUICKLY!!* After the Web publishing of this lessons (I am
sending C.1 to 8 pages and 4 usenet groups on 25/06/1996) this
protection is obviously as dead as a Dodo. The "Accessors" guys
will have to conceive something smarter if they want to keep
selling "protections" to the lamer producers of "big" software.
     BTW, if you are reading this and are working for some
commercial "protection" company, consider the possibility to
double cross your masters! Deliver me anonymously all the future
projects you are working on! That will amuse me, speed up the
advent of a true altruistic society and earn you the respect of
the better part of humanity.
     As I said, many "huge" application are still protected with
this "Instant access" system. I have personally bought at least
7 or 8 "second hand" CD-ROMs packed full with Microsoft, Lotus,
Norton, Symantec, you name it, applications all "protected"
through this crap. The cost of this bunch of CD-ROMs was the
equivalent of a bottle of Dry Martini, maybe less. The same
software is sold, unlocked, to zombies and lusers for ludicrous
amounts of money.
     Never buy CD-ROMs magazines when they appear! Be cool! Buy
them two or three months after the publishing date! Buy
"remainders" or "second hand" CD-ROM magazines "at kilo price"...
Come to think of it, never buy *anything* when it appears or when
some (paid) advertiser tells you to... remember that "trends",
"vogues", "fashions" and "modes" are only different names for the
whips that drill and chain the dull-witted slaves of this
loathsome society: "clever crackers consider cool, crack cheap,
cheat customary culture" (a rhetorical figure: an "Alliteration".
To defend yourself learn rhetoric... it's a more powerful and
more useful weapon than Kung-fu).
     The "triple" password protection routine in (c) Instant
Access is very interesting from a cracker point of view. It's a
relatively complex scheme: I'll teach you to crack it in two
phases: First of all you must find the "allowed" registration
code, the one that "ignites" the "product code". We must crack
and understand this re_code first if we want to crack the rest.
     Just for the records, I am cracking here (c) Action Instant
access version 1.0 (CD-ROM found on a old copy of "Personal
Computer World" of August 1994, packed full with encrypted Lotus,
Symantec, Claris and Wordperfect applications. Just to be sure
I crosschecked my results with another CD-ROM which also has
applications protected with (c) Instant Access: Paragon
Publishing's PC OFFICE: the protection scheme remains the same).

I am focusing for this lesson on the cracking of the specific
protection for the encrypted Symantec's Norton Utilities v.8.0.
     Please refer to the previous lessons for the basic
techniques used in order to find the protection routine inside
our babe... for "low" cracking purposes you -basically- type a
number (in this case, where the input gets 10 numbers, we'll use
"1212-1212-12"), do your search inside the memory (s 30:0
lffffffff "your_string") and then set memory breakpoints on all
the relevant memory locations till winice pops (I know, I know,
buddies... there are more effective ways... but hold your mouth:
for now we'll keep them among us: let's make things a little
harder for the protectionists who read this... Besides: the old
approach works here flawlessly). After getting the Registration
window on screen the Winice standard procedure is:
 :task                        ; how
 :heap IABROWSE               ; where & what
 :hwnd IABROWSE               ; get the Winhandle
 :bpx [winhandle] WM_GETTEXT  ; pinpoint code
 :bpx GetProcAddress          ; in case of funny routines
 :dex 0 ds:dx                 ;          let's see their name
 :gdt                         ; sniff the selectors
 :s 30:0 lffffffff "Your_input_string" ; search in 4 giga data
 :bpr [all memory ranges for your string that are above 80000000]
and so on.  (continued in lesson C.2)

Well, that's it for this lesson, reader. Not all lessons of my
tutorial are on the Web.
     You 'll obtain the missing lessons IF AND ONLY IF you mail
me back (via with some tricks of the trade I may
not know that YOU discovered. Mostly I'll actually know them
already, but if they are really new you'll be given full credit,
and even if they are not, should I judge that you rediscovered them 
with your work, or that you actually did good work on them,
I'll send you the remaining lessons nevertheless. Your
suggestions and critics on the whole crap I wrote are also

E-mail +ORC