+HCU: Academy of reverse engineering
hcu97 Founded by +ORC in April 1996 hcu98

+HCU 1998: A real university

by +ORC

(29 October 1997)
Greetings, new and old friends, I owe you some explanations.
And I have some work for you.

   I'll tell you a (minor) secret: when I started publishing my tutorial
on Usenet, back in 1995, I did not know exactly where I would have landed.
My idea, to put it simply, was to take advantage of the might of Internet in
terms of anonymity, international dimension, easy access and "just in time" 
modifiability, in order to spread a very simple message using (as major vector) 
software cracking... this I deemed necessary coz verba movent, exempla trahunt.
   My message was threefold:
-	knowledge should from now on be free, we should not allow any barrier 
 	whatsoever any more;
-	everybody should not only be allowed, but also helped to develop his 
-	the consum oriented society wherein we are compelled to live is NOT 
	free, nor correct, nor the best possible one, far from it. We must 
	help others, blinded by a well-concerted propaganda, to realise this.
  If you examine these three sentences, you'll see that they support each other 
and that these same principle have been, many centuries ago, at the basis 
of the foundation of the "real" universities all over Europe.
  The word "university" is in itself a sort of synonym for "international 
dimension"... indeed knowledge does not care about national or physical frontiers, 
nor worries about different social systems, racial or gender differences.
  Language of course can (and did) represent a problem for the diffusion of 
knowledge (and more generally for the relations between humans), yet the english 
'pidgin' used to-day on the Web is a good (albeit emendable) solution. The fact 
that many among us are NOT English native speakers seems fortunately to represent 
a negligible problem nowadays. 
  Now, you see, in our to-day world knowledge is often (if wrongly) connected 
to software. Software importance is due to its paramount importance for all 
modern scientific disciplines. These are deemed important in order to create 
(and sell) the incredible amount of useless gadgets that let this society 
roll on towards its own well deserved doom. 
Note -incidentally- that 'humanistic' disciplines are nowadays reserved 
only to the very rich people, poor slaves are not supposed at all 
to study greek or latin, or poetry or philosophy... vita sine litteris mors 
est! Young 'university level' slaves are tricked into following scientific 
'trends' which may be useful for a short span, but whose short life will 
secure to the same gullible slaves an unemployed or under-employed miserable 
status later on. Or does anyone of you think that he could get teached in 
some other 'real world' university 'trend' courses that what he is 
learning here?.
  Anyway I felt that it was pretty important to use in this context the only 
scalpel I know of, since software and Internet are indeed a knowledge vector. 
This scalpel of mine is (you have guessed it :=) a cracking attitude.
  When I started the +HCU project, inside my "C" lessons, in April 1996, I 
basically wanted to find some help: i.e. someone else capable of disclosing 
our art, some fellow crackers capable of carrying on and ameliorate the 
kind of work I was trying to do.
  The "Instant Access" strainer was -alas!- much too hard for the "scene" 
knowledge of that time (I believe that now many of you would crack that 
crap much more easily). And I got very few answers. My luck was that I
have found very good students among those few.
  Unfortunately in the last two semesters I was taken by other projects 
(which have much more to do with 'history cracking' than with software 
cracking as +gthorne knows :=) and I did not have the time to follow my 
very good (and few) students.
 Yet their work nonetheless (or may be for this very reason :=) went
beyond all my expectancies: reverser+ and +gthorne, with the help of +Sync, 
did develop something that surpasses by far, for contents and available 
free knowledge, anything I had ever seen on the net before.
  A real "Academy" (as reverser+ has called it) of software deprotection 
that serves already now as comprehensive reference for all 'protectionists'
and de-protectionists alike (and you should hear the deference and 
admiration that has been expressed by some 'very high' software bonzes 
for many of the essays that have been published there :=)
  The "Microsoft" strainer of April 1997 inside my lesson 4.2 found a much
greater audience. Potius sero, quam nunquam. Inside our 1998 +HCU courses 
we will have a dozen of students, clearly too many to be followed and tutored 
as they deserve by me alone.
  I will therefore create once more various 'units', but this time I'll 
try to place inside each one of them some experienced crackers together 
with some less experienced ones. each unit will be targeted towards some 
specific project (yet of course anyone will be able to swap courses if 
he likes so).
  Next year we will therefore have a REAL university (or at least the 
beginning of it). It will of course be completely free, for anybody that 
has deserved it through is work.
  I'll personally invite some "famous" crackers (friends of mine) to give 
you "ad hoc" (or ad personam) specific courses... and during our 1998 
academic year we will meet (figuratively speaking :=) some eminent "hacker" 
personality too.
  The "real" universities of yesterday have also been a cosmopolite meeting 
point... people from many nations and languages and social situations have 
brought there their personal contribution... this allowed formidable 
progresses and an incredible evolution of the societies of those times.
  Our society has come to an awful regression point. Useless nationalism 
and petty provincial attitudes are rampant (even inside the 'real world' 
universities :=( while at the same time few international commercial oligarchs 
are dominating the whole world as if it where a conquered "Unicum".
  Everything seems to be geared towards consume and money, as if the main
wish of humanity should consist in an 'hamster' life, hoarding useless 
gadgets and munching them with full cheeks while loosing at the same time 
more and more all the precious attributes that form the "quality of life".
  Software will be used in that sense too: giving them more and more 
VIRTUAL life quality and hiddenly stealing the last real bits of it.
  Our university will be really 'universal'... some of you may -already 
now- have many friends from different continents, good friends 
that they may never have met, but that they read and/or hear every day, 
friends that 'in the real world' come in all varieties of colours, 
religions, beliefs and costumes. It's the human race coming together 
anew after dozen of thousands of years, something that our forefathers 
could only have dreamed of. It's a vulcan we are sitting on, and we should 
contribute to crack it open.
  In fact for once in history our diversities make us STRONG instead than 
feeble. They help us to develop even quicker than our masters. It's an old 
lesson: when the provincialism of a closed society is broken, 
when input and ideas can circulate freely (and the anonymity of the web 
plays a very important catalitic role in all this) then an incredible 
rhythm can be conveyed to the development of each one of us.
  Let's also not forget that our very craving for knowledge, together with 
our longing for justice, represents already now a considerable power, a 
power that some of our enemies are beginning to feel. We are at the right 
place in the right moment, don't forget it never.

  I would like to try to perform an 'assessment' of the capabilities of 
each one of you that goes byond the (easy) strainer that you have solved 
this sommer. You are not compelled to take part to this 'project', and 
since you passed the strainer you'll be admitted to the courses on the 
first of January anyway, of course, yet if you only find the time, I 
would like you all to partecipate, I would like more elements to 'group' 
you for the courses. 
Besides I believe that this project is interesting per se (I got the idea 
for this project from lazy reverser+ :=)
The Acrobat project, preparation for the 1998 +HCU courses

  ACROBAT FORMAT FILES security settings have not yet been cracked, 
AFAIK, and therefore this makes the target a very nice (and very 
interesting and very important) project to work on.
Acrobat format files are those  *.pdf files in portable document 
format that you can only read (yet not write) with the free Adobe 
reader. The idea behind this being, as usual, common greed. If Adobe 
had given to anybody reader and acrobat (writer) for free, this (very 
good) format would have been by now the standard on the web. 
Yet they just wanted to make money. Result: only few people are using 
this. We'll change all this right now!

First (this should be easy if you work in group):
Defeat the security settings: a PDF document author can choose to 
restrict access to a file by requiring an open password or 
by restricting the use of certain tools and commands.
If a file requires an open password, you must enter the password to view 
the file. When a file has restricted access, any restricted tools and 
menu items are dimmed. We don't like 'restricted access' per definition, 
so crack this :=)

Second (this is a little more difficult, but you'll have great 
satisfaction if and when you master it): a good comprehension of this pdf 
format will allow you to quickly write a *.txt ==> *.pdf file converter 
which we will then distribute (of course for free) on the net.
Yes, we'll do now that what Adobe should have madeby itself long ago. 
De nihilo, nihil:
You'll find some first info (and you'll be able to download reader) at
At the beginning of your work you'll quikly find out that there 
is already a first (bad) attempt at cracking this format on the web.
Actually it is not a 'crack', but a programmer that wanted to port 
acrobat to another platform (and had some problems with Adobe, of 
course). You'll be able to download there some files specifications 
that will spare you a lot of work.
You'll have to perform some social engineering as well, in order to 
get the info you need: that is good, a good cracker IS a social engineer.

I believe you'll have to work a little to crack this project which 
will teach you a lot in my opinion, and there is another advantage: 
by yourself to form little groups, you'll see how quikly you'll get 
to the solution thattaway.

Work well

by reverser+ (29 October 1997)

Well, I received this four hours ago from +ORC's hotmail identity (as usual the original ID that hotmail lets through when you send from it is useless: some 'spare' one month trial AOL account that +he just fakes, uses and throws away :-) and I decided to publish immediately. Indeed I seem to have (unvoluntarly) given him this whole idea: I wrote him that I had received some (pretty good) tutorials by Ghiribizzo, yet these were in *.pdf protected format, and I did not wanted to publish them as such. I told him that I had only Adobe Reader, and that i did not have Adobe Acrobat. His answer was typical:

    Well crack them nevertheless. You don't need Acrobat to crack that crap, 
    Reader is more than enough... and come to think of it, once you have 
    understood pdf, write a converter, that format would for sure look nice 
    for the essays... formositas dimidium dotis. Besides, having done it all 
    of your own will give you some more glory.
So I am very happy with this project, and I hope we all will succeed.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go to the redpdf-project page
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