The Easy Protection Schemes And The Lazy Protectionists
(InstallShield Software Corporation protection schemes)

by Vizion

(05 December 1997)

Courtesy of reverser's page of reverse engineering
Well, Vizion has sent a very interesting addition for a (future?) section solely dedicated to the various Installwizards routines, which revest an obvious interest for our activities... a short essay, yet I know that there is great request for the bruteforce password routines... what could you enjoy more than seeing one of them, programmed by you in your language of choice, thank to Vizion's pseudocode, finding langsam its way inside the target under your very eyes... like in the old "War games" film, where a (may be a little too young) cracker saved the whole world?

           The Easy Protection Schemes And The Lazy Protectionists           

 Everyone in our trade knows InstallShield Software Corporation. Well those
 great programmers have created some new packages, InstallFromTheWeb v2.1,
 PackageForTheWeb v2.1 and InstallShield Professional East Edition v5.0 all 
 very neat products indeed. I got a request to crack InstallFromTheWeb, 
 which I did quite fast. Due to my curiosity I downloaded the other two 
 packages also and came up with the next amusing results.

 The First Time,

 I started InstallFromTheWeb v2.1 and it asked for a password. Those great
 protectionist had dimmed the "next button" so we needed a working password.
 Ok, a breakpoint on GetWindowTextA got me in SoftIce. And I could observe
 the next piece of code,

 * Reference To: USER32.GetWindowTextA, Ord:013Fh
 :00403713 FF155C144100   Call dword ptr [0041145C]
 :00403719 8B1590EF4000   mov edx, dword ptr [0040EF90]  << u should be here :0040371F 52 push edx :00403720 E86BD9FFFF call 00401090 << ?!? :00403725 8B1588EA4000 mov edx, dword ptr [0040EA88] << static value :0040372B 83C404 add esp, 00000004 :0040372E 33C9 xor ecx, ecx << :00403730 3BC2 cmp eax, edx << good password? :00403732 0F94C1 sete cl << good/bad flag :00403735 8BC1 mov eax, ecx :00403737 5D pop ebp :00403738 C3 ret I think for the trained eye, this snippet says enough. A call, a compare and a good/bad flag. We all know what sete does if the ZF is set and we all know when cmp will set the ZF. I traced the code "a.class" tppabs="" couple of times in SoftIce and the value in edx is always the same, F450D3h. So lets take a look at the only call we got in our snippet, * Referenced by a CALL at Addresses:004032A2 , :00403720 | :00401090 55 push ebp :00401091 8BEC mov ebp, esp :00401093 8B5508 mov edx, dword ptr [ebp+08] << offset password :00401096 B8AC43F100 mov eax, 00F143AC << :0040109B 8A0A mov cl, byte ptr [edx] << 1st digit :0040109D 84C9 test cl, cl << empty? :0040109F 740D je 004010AE << yes! get out * Referenced by a Jump at Address:004010AC(C) | :004010A1 0FBEC9 movsx ecx, cl << :004010A4 42 inc edx << :004010A5 8D0448 lea eax, dword ptr [eax+2*ecx] << mathematics ! ;) :004010A8 8A0A mov cl, byte ptr [edx] << next digit :004010AA 84C9 test cl, cl << the end? :004010AC 75F3 jne 004010A1 << no! go on * Referenced by a Jump at Address:0040109F(C) | :004010AE 3593190500 xor eax, 00051993 << more math... :004010B3 5D pop ebp :004010B4 C3 ret Well, even a +newbie could understand this. So I don't know what I can explain more. So how do get a working password. You should have noticed that the target tells us that the password is case-sensitive, so the password may contain chars (a..z,A..Z) and numbers (0..9). There is no check on the lenght of the password, so we can choose that. So here is what I came up with. After some vodka-martini I came up with the next little random password generator. The code below is pseudo code, I hope that most of you can translate this to their favourite programming language, 
 STR_LEN = 10

  FOR IDX = 1 TO STR_LEN DO                              
   VAL[IDX] = RANDOM_VAL                                 
  RETURN VAL                                             
 END CREATE_STR                                          

  EAX = F143ACh
   EAX = EAX + ( 2 * BYTE( VAL[IDX] ) )
  EAX = EAX XOR 51993h

  STAT_VAL = F450D3h

 Why should this work? The whole idea is to create values that are close to
 the test value loaded into edx because we need cmp to set the ZF (see code
 above). How can we do this (and quickly, if possible)? The value of TEST_VAL
 depends on the length of the strings we create in CREATE_STR. The best way
 to see if we're on the right track is to make the program print out the
 values of TEST_VAL and of TEST_VAL - STAT_VAL. I started with strings of 10
 digits, if we're doing ok the value of TEST_VAL - STAT_VAL should oscillate 
 around zero,

 16011357 -118
 16012173 698
 16011963 488
 16012179 704
 16011431 -44
 16012209 734
 16011535 60
 16011349 -126
 16012237 762
 16011365 -110
 16011517 42
 16011437 -38
 16011631 156
 16012225 750
 16012171 696
 16011381 -94
 16012103 628
 16012269 794
 16012245 770
 16011475 0         << password : Cy042L6Yf7 
 And I had luck from the first time, the program returned a working password
 within a couple of seconds. If you still don't understand how I came to this
 solution, call it +ZEN and just accept it.

 Well this does it for InstallFromTheWeb, pretty easy if you ask me...

 The Second Time,

 Lets go on with PackageForTheWeb v2.1 - start the program and enjoy almost
 the same password screen, why not try a password from InstallFromTheWeb ;).
 Well it won't work, else there wouldn't be more to write about. Again, a
 breakpoint on GetWindowTextA got me in SoftIce. Again the same code showed
 up. So why didn't it work? I traced the code and noticed only one difference
 in the whole protection scheme. The static value that is loaded into edx was
 different, F4528Dh . I changed this number in my password generator and ran
 it again,

 16011317 -600
 16011447 -470
 16011295 -622
 16012233 316
 16012273 356
 16012255 338
 16011519 -398
 16012249 332
 16011267 -650
 16011359 -558
 16012275 358
 16012171 254
 16012199 282
 16011509 -408
 16011501 -416
 16012211 294
 16012081 164
 16012167 250
 16011353 -564
 16011917 0         << password : kaHpjnDEqc 
 Bingo! Again within a couple of seconds the generator returned a working
 password. Voila, that does it for this target, let's go on with the next

 The Third Time,

 Its time for our third target, InstallShield Professional v5.0 - again do
 all the same as the two times before. Again the only difference is the
 static value loaded into edx, now the value was F44F75h. Again I changed the
 password generator and ran it. But now it kept running, so something else
 needed to change. I traced the code in SoftIce a couple of times but all was
 the same as in the previous two targets. Uhm?!? Remember what I said about
 the values of TEST_VAL? You do! Great! The values are dependent of the
 length of the passwords. So I tried a couple of different lengths from 5
 digits to 30 digits. And found that 30 was quite satisfying,

 16010815 -310
 16009819 -1306
 16010325 -800
 16010657 -468
 16010535 -590
 16011047 -78
 16010353 -772
 16010933 -192
 16011131 6
 16010925 -200
 16011145 20
 16010529 -596
 16010605 -520
 16011165 40
 16010861 -264
 16011239 114
 16010287 -838
 16011135 10
 16010259 -866
 16010305 -820
 16011125 0         << password : 25sJWhqxN4C51Klyq31Y0ql2U6WkNn 
 Like you'll notice the value of TEST_VAL is in most cases negative, this
 means that shorter passwords would do the job also. Again, the generator
 returns a good value within some seconds. Voila, I'm a happy man for the
 third time.

 So this is all, I hope I explained the title of this essay...
 It's a shame that great programs like those used in this essay use so easy
 protections schemes ;). Again this shows that a good programmer is NOT the
 same as a good protectionist.

 Well, what can I say, I enjoyed writing this essay, you enjoyed reading it
 else you won't be here right now...

 I better stop...

 Greets fly to,
 all regulars and members of mEX/c4N, all members of REVOLT, all +crackers

 Vizion, 12/97.
(c) Vizion All rights reversed
You are deep inside reverser's page of reverse engineering, choose your way out:

redBack to project 7
redhomepage redlinks redanonymity +ORC redstudents' essays redacademy database
redtools redcocktails redantismut CGI-scripts redsearch_forms redmail_fravia
redIs reverse engineering legal?