Enterprise REXX
Reversing a "tool of the trade

by Drlan
(18 September 1997, slightly edited by fravia+)

Courtesy of Fravia's page of reverse engineering

Well, an interesting essay, here is Drlan's email to me:

Here's a short essay on a nice program I found.  It's called Enterprise 
REXX (WinREXX).  It's a pretty cool programming tool and I guess could 
be considered a "tool of our trade." 
At first I thought he cracked only the nagscreen out, leaving the Cinderella and the Quiver protections intact. Yet drlan says that the setting of the flag gets rid of every protection scheme inside this target...

Target Program: Enterprise REXX (WinREXX)
Protection: Nag(s), 21 day time limit, limited number of runs ("Quiver" protection)
Cracked by: drlan [Me'97/C4N]!
Location: http://www.winrexx.com/Trial/

Tools needed:
- SoftICE Win95 3.01
- Hex Editor (I like PSEdit and Hex Workshop)

Conventions used:
> denotes a SoftICE command

Download the target and run it a few times to get a feel for what's going on.
You'll notice a nice little reminder that the program will expire in 21 days
or after 126 more uses, whichever is later.  That doesn't sound like quite
enough time for a thorough evaluation, so let's see what we can do...

I am going to work through REXX.EXE in the tutorial.  The routine for the
WINREXX.EXE is almost identical and I'll explain where to patch it at the

As with any crack, there are many different ways to approach this.  The first
thing I did was disassemble the file with W32Dasm 8.9.  
Hey, that's not in the above list of tools needed! 
Don't worry, this isn't how we're going to crack it...  
You could choose the dead listing approach.  You will find the strings
that refer to "expires in" and "expired."  You could then crack from there,
as usual, but let's try a different approach.

When you run either of the main executables (REXX.EXE or WINREXX.EXE), the
friendly reminder pops up to let us know when this babe is going to expire.
This box, with just an OK button on, looks a lot like a standard API call.
A couple of the routines that can put on the screen a message like this are:
MessageBox and DialogBox.  Of course this is a 32-bit app, so these functions
have an "A" on the end.  Let's try a breakpoint on MessageBoxA.  Pop over into
SoftICE with Ctrl-D and do this:

>bpx MessageBoxA

Now press Ctrl-D or F5 to get out of SoftICE and then run the program again.
sICE will pop on the MessageBoxA function.  Press F12 to RETurn.  Now click
the OK button on the message box.  You should drop back into sICE right after
the call to MessageBoxA.

Scroll up your Code Window using Ctrl-Up Arrow.  You won't need to scroll up
very far (just a few lines), until you come to this interesting bit of code:

:004079F9 837DB800      CMP DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00      ; looks like a flag
          0F841A000000  JZ 00404C5D                     ; jump if it's zero
          6A40          PUSH 40                         ; otherwise, set up
          A1B4E04000    MOV EAX, [0040E0B4]             ; for our call to
          50            PUSH EAX                        ; the ugly nag screen
          68301B4100    PUSH 00411B30
          FF15C8534100  CALL User32!GetFocus
          50            PUSH EAX
          FF15D4534100  CALL User32!MessageBoxA         ; which happens here!

:00404C5D 8B45FC        MOV EAX, [ebp-04]
          E900000000    JMP 00404C65

:00404C65 5F            POP EDI
          5E            POP ESI
          5B            POP EBX
          C9            LEAVE
          C3            RET

So, what do we see here?  Looks like that CMP DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00 is
comparing a flag.  I tried placing a memory write breakpoint on that location
but couldn't find where the flag was set.  It looks to me like if the flag
were 00, we would jump over the whole nag screen mess.  So, let's just make
it so!

Let's change:
          837DB800              CMP DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00
          0F841A000000          JZ 00404C5D

          C745B800000000        MOV DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00
          EB1B                  JMP 00404C5D
          90                    NOP

We need to pad with one NOP to make it an even 10 byte for 10 byte exchange.
Now, instead of comparing the flag, we are setting the flag.  I think this
should please our master, +ORC.  Then, with the flag set, we are making an
unconditional jump (JMP) over the MessageBoxA call.

You can do this live in sICE.  First clear all existing breakpoints.

>BC *

Now place a breakpoint on the CMP DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00 line.  You can do
this by typing BPX segment:offset or simply double click on the line.  Then
run the program.  When sICE breaks on the line, we'll assemble in our new

>A                              ; to assemble in our new instructions
>MOV DWORD PTR [ebp-48], 00     ; let's make the flag 00
>JMP 00404C5D                   ; jump over the message box
>(press Esc)

Press Ctrl-D or F5 to continue running.  You should not see any nag screens!

Time to transfer our live crack into something more useful and longer lasting.
We need to hex edit the rexx.exe program to replace the bad old instructions
with our nice new ones.

Nag screen(s):
Search for:     837DB8000F841A000000    ; compare flag, jmp if 00
Replace with:   C745B800000000EB1B90    ; set flag to 00, jmp, nop

WinREXX.EXE uses the same code, so search and replace the same string in
there and you're all set! 

Setting the flag get's rid of ALL protection schemes inside these targets!

That's it for this lesson.  Hope this was fun and instructional.


GreetZ: Everyone in [Me'97/C4N], PC'97, UCF, {fravia+, gthorne+ and +ORC}, 


(c) +drlan 1997. All rights reversed
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