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Encyclopedia > Software cracking

Software cracking is the modification of software to remove protection methods: copy prevention, trial/demo version, serial number, hardware key, CD check or software annoyances like nag screens and adware. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ... Copy prevention, also known as copy protection, is any technical measure designed to prevent duplication of information. ... This article is about advertising-supported software. ...

The distribution and use of cracked copies is illegal in almost every developed country. There have been many lawsuits over cracking software, but most have been to do with the distribution of the duplicated product rather than the process of defeating the protection, due to the difficulty of constructing legally sound proof of individual guilt in the latter instance. In the United States, the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legislation made software cracking, as well as the distribution of information which enables software cracking, illegal. However, the law has hardly been tested in the U.S. judiciary in cases of reverse engineering for personal use only. The European Union passed the European Union Copyright Directive in May 2001, making software copyright infringement illegal in member states once national legislation has been enacted pursuant to the directive. Economic development is the development of economic wealth of countries or regions for the well-being of their inhabitants. ... Civil action redirects here. ... The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which implements two 1996 WIPO treaties. ... In the law, the judiciary or judicial system is the system of courts which administer justice in the name of the sovereign or state, a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. ... Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc. ... The European Union (EU) directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, commonly known as the EU Copyright Directive or short EUCD, is the EUs implementation...



The most common software crack is the modification of an application's binary to cause or prevent a specific key branch in the program's execution. This is accomplished by reverse engineering the compiled program code using a debugger such as SoftICE, OllyDbg, GDB, or MacsBug until the software cracker reaches the subroutine that contains the primary method of protecting the software (or by disassembling an executable file with a program such as IDA). The binary is then modified using the debugger or a hex editor in a manner that replaces a prior branching opcode with its complement or a NOP opcode so the key branch will either always execute a specific subroutine or skip over it. Almost all common software cracks are a variation of this type. Proprietary software developers are constantly developing techniques such as code obfuscation, encryption, and self-modifying code to make this modification increasingly difficult. Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc. ... A debugger is a computer program that is used to test and debug other programs. ... SoftICE is a kernel mode debugger for Microsoft Windows. ... The subject of this article seems to fail one of the following consensually-accepted Wikipedia inclusion guidelines: If you are familiar with the subject matter, please expand the article to establish its notability, citing reliable sources, so as to avoid it being considered for deletion. ... The GNU Debugger, usually called just GDB, is the standard debugger for the GNU software system. ... MacsBug is a low-level debugger for the Motorola 68000 family of processors specifically for the Apple Macintosh. ... In computer science, a subroutine (function, method, procedure, or subprogram) is a portion of code within a larger program, which performs a specific task and can be relatively independent of the remaining code. ... A disassembler is a computer program that translates machine language into assembly language — the inverse operation to that of an assembler. ... The Interactive Disassembler, more commonly known as simply IDA, is a commercial disassembler widely used for reverse engineering. ... A debugger is a computer program that is used to test and debug other programs. ... A hex editor (or binary file editor or byte editor) is a type of computer program that allows a user to manipulate binary (normally non-plain text) computer files. ... Microprocessors perform operations using binary bits (on/off/1or0). ... NOP or NOOP (short for No OPeration) is an assembly language instruction, sequence of programming language statements, or computer protocol command that does nothing at all (besides wasting clock cycles). ... Microprocessors perform operations using binary bits (on/off/1or0). ... In computer science, a subroutine (function, method, procedure, or subprogram) is a portion of code within a larger program, which performs a specific task and can be relatively independent of the remaining code. ... Proprietary software is software with restrictions on copying and modifying as enforced by the proprietor. ... Obfuscated code is source code that is (perhaps intentionally) very hard to read and understand. ... Encrypt redirects here. ... In computer science, self-modifying code is code that alters its own instructions, whether or not it is on purpose, while it is executing. ...

A specific example of this technique is a crack that removes the expiration period from a time-limited trial of an application. These cracks are usually programs that patch the program executable and sometimes the .dll or .so linked to the application. Similar cracks are available for software that requires a hardware dongle. A company can also break the copy preventions of programs that they have legally purchased but that are licensed to particular hardware, so that there is no risk of downtime due to hardware failure (and, of course, no need to restrict oneself to running the software on bought hardware only). Illustration of an application which may use libvorbisfile. ... Chained parallel port copy prevention dongles. ... A software license is a legal agreement which may take the form of a proprietary or gratuitous license as well as a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software. ...

In other cases, it might be possible to decompile a program in order to get access to the original source code or code on a level higher than machine code. This is often possible with scripting languages. An example is cracking (or debugging) on the .NET platform where one might consider manipulating CIL to achieve one's needs. A decompiler is the name given to a computer program that performs the reverse operation to that of a compiler. ... Source code (commonly just source or code) is any series of statements written in some human-readable computer programming language. ... hjhjhjhh ghjhjhj gjkjkj ... Machine code or machine language is a system of instructions and data directly executed by a computers central processing unit. ... Scripting languages (commonly called script languages) are computer programming languages that are typically interpreted. ... Common Intermediate Language (CIL, pronounced either sill or kill) (formerly called Microsoft Intermediate Language or MSIL) is the lowest-level human-readable programming language in the Common Language Infrastructure and in the . ...

There are a number of sites on the Internet that let users download cracks for popular games and applications (although at the danger of acquiring malicious software that is sometimes distributed via such sites). Although these cracks are used by legal buyers of software they can also be used by people who have downloaded or otherwise obtained pirated software (often through P2P networks). A peer-to-peer (or P2P) computer network is a network that relies on the computing power and bandwidth of the participants in the network rather than concentrating it in a relatively few servers. ...


The most visible and controversial effect of software cracking is the releasing of fully operable proprietary software without any copy protection. Software companies represented by the Business Software Alliance estimate and claim losses due to piracy. Proprietary indicates that a party, or proprietor, exercises private ownership, control or use over an item of property, usually to the exclusion of other parties. ... The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is a trade group established in 1988 and representing a number of the worlds largest software makers. ... Warez refers primarily to copyrighted works traded in violation of copyright law. ...

Cracking has also been a significant factor in the domination of companies such as Adobe Systems and Microsoft, all of whom have benefited from piracy since the 1980s. Vast numbers of college and high school students adopted readily available applications from these companies. Many of these students would then go on to use them in their professional lives, purchasing legitimate licenses for business use and introducing the software to others until the programs became ubiquitous.[1]-1...


Due to the potential legal repercussions, many individuals who release cracks to the public for commercially available software choose to remain anonymous. This can often create confusion as the available documentation is often sparse. It is beyond the ability of most to determine the exact operations the crack will execute.

As an example, several spyware removal utilities have rules in place that regard certain cracks as having a malicious payload such as a hidden DDOS daemon.[citation needed] DoS redirects here. ...

Some forms of software protection can include subtle countermeasures against cracking that do not prevent the cracked program from running, but can eventually lead to long-term damage of data created and used with the cracked program.

An example of this could be an expensive engineering software that requires a dongle to operate. The program may be specifically designed to incorporate certain minor math errors and design flaws into all documents, but the dongle stores the particular dimensional metrics needed to cancel out these cumulative intentional data errors. Once cracked, the corrective metrics from the dongle are no longer available, and over time as documents are edited with the cracked software, object dimensions move and distort until the document is so corrupted that it is unusable.[citation needed] The company may provide a method to undo the damage, provided the customer pays a fee for the correction and obtains a properly licensed uncracked program.


The first software copy protection was on early Apple II, Atari 800 and Commodore 64 software. Game publishers, in particular, carried on an arms race with software crackers. More recently, publishers have resorted to increasingly complex countermeasures to try to stop unauthorized copying of their software. The Apple II was one of the most popular personal computers of the 1980s. ... Atari built a series of 8-bit home computers based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU, starting in 1979. ... C-64 redirects here. ...

Unlike modern computers that use standardized drivers to manage device communications, the Apple II DOS directly controlled the step motor that moves the floppy drive head, and also directly interpreted the raw data (known as nibbles) read from each track to find the data sectors. This allowed complex disk-based software copy protection, by storing data on half tracks (0 1 2.5 3.5 5 6...), quarter tracks (0 1 2.25 3.75 5 6...), and any combination thereof. In addition tracks did not need to be perfect rings, but could be sectioned so that sectors could be staggered across overlapping offset tracks, the most extreme version being known as spiral tracking. It was also discovered that many floppy drives do not have a fixed upper limit to head movement, and it was sometimes possible to write an additional 36th track above the normal 35 tracks. The standard Apple II DOS copy programs could not read such protected floppy disks, since the standard DOS assumed all disks had a uniform 35 track, 13 or 16 sector layout. Special nibble-copy programs such as Locksmith and Copy II Plus could sometimes duplicate these disks by using a reference library of known protection methods, but when protected programs were cracked they would be completely stripped of the copy protection system, and transferred onto a standard DOS disk that any normal Apple II DOS copy program could read. A device driver, or software driver is a computer program allowing higher-level computer programs to interact with a computer hardware device. ... For other uses, see Nibble (disambiguation). ...

One of the primary routes to hacking these early copy protections, was to run a program that simulates the normal CPU operation. The CPU simulator provides a number of extra features to the hacker, such as the ability to single-step through each processor instruction, and to examine the CPU registers and modified memory spaces as the simulation runs. The Apple II provided a built-in opcode disassembler, allowing raw memory to be decoded into CPU opcodes, and this would be utilized to examine what the copy-protection is about to do next. Generally there was little to no defense available to the copy protection system, since all its secrets are made visible through the simulation. But because the simulation itself must run on the original CPU, in addition to the software being hacked, the simulation would often run extremely slowly even at maximum speed.

The most common protection method on the Atari computers were "bad sectors". These were sectors on the disk that were intentionally unreadable by the disk drive. The software would look for these sectors when the program was loading and would stop loading if an error code was not returned when accessing these sectors. Special copy programs were available that would copy the disk and remember any bad sectors. The user could then use an application to spin the drive by constantly reading a single sector and display the drive RPM. With the disk drive top removed a small screwdriver could be used to slow the drive RPM below a certain point. Once the drive was slowed down the application could then go and write "bad sectors" where needed. When done the drive RPM was sped up back to normal and an uncracked copy was made. Of course cracking the software to expect good sectors made for readily copied disks without the need to meddle with the disk drive. As time when on come more sophisticated methods were developed, but almost all involved some form of malformed disk data, such as a sector that might return different data on separate accesses due to bad data alignment. Products such as the "Happy Chip" become available that were hardware add-on similar to today's game console "Mod chips". However, the "Happy Chip" would allow the user to make exact copies of the original program with copy protections in place on the new disk. "Happy Chip" owners quickly became popular in game trading circles.

On the [Commodore 64] several methods were used. For ROM Cartridges routines were written to "WRITE" to the ROM, if there was a ROM Cartridge nothing would happen as this was impossible. If the software was moved to RAM. this would disable the software. For floppy drives at first errors to the floppy were intentionally written to the floppy and the software would look for the errors. Because of the operational of Commodore Floppy Drives this would cause the floppy drive heard to bang against the edge and could cause the drive head to break.

Cracked versions were desirable just for that reason. As that became easy to crack. Protection included writing to disk drives tracks 36-40 (Commodore only used tracks 0-35). Commodore floppy drives allowed programming the floppy drives. Some common disk copying software for the Commodore 64 was Disk Mimic , 1541 Backup , and more.

Most of the early software crackers were computer hobbyists who often formed groups that competed against each other in the cracking and spreading of software. Breaking a new copy protection scheme as quickly as possible was often regarded as an opportunity to demonstrate one's technical superiority rather than a possibility of money-making. The cracker groups of the 1980s started to advertise themselves and their skills by attaching animated screens known as crack intros in the software programs they cracked and released. Once the technical competition had expanded from the challenges of cracking to the challenges of creating visually stunning intros, the foundations for a new subculture known as demoscene were established. Demoscene started to separate itself from the illegal "warez scene" during the 1990s and is now regarded as a completely different subculture. Many software crackers have later grown into (extremely) capable software reverse engineers; The deep knowledge of assembly required in order to crack protections enables them - inter alia - to reverse engineer drivers in order to port them from binary-only drivers for Windows to drivers with source code for Linux and other Free operating systems. A typical crack intro has a text running at the bottom of the screen. ... The demoscene is a computer art subculture that specializes itself on producing demos, non-interactive audio-visual presentations, which are run real-time on a computer. ... This article is about operating systems that use the Linux kernel. ... Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things. ...

Software crackers have their secretive organizations on the Internet. Similar to other "grey area" Internet activities, there are also various detector, legal and other specialists on the subject.

Industry Response

Apple Computer has begun incorporating a Trusted Platform Module into their Apple Macintosh line of computers, and making use of it in such applications as Rosetta. Parts of the operating system not fully x86-native run through the Rosetta PowerPC binary translator, which in turn requires the Trusted Platform Module for proper operation. (This description applies to the developer preview version, but the mechanism differs in the release version.) Recently, the OSx86 project has been releasing patches to circumvent this mechanism. There are also industrial solutions available like Matrix Software License Protection System. Apple Inc. ... In computing, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is both the name of a published specification detailing a microcontroller that can store secured information, as well as the general name of implementations of that specification, often called TPM chip or TPM Security Device (Dell). ... The first Macintosh computer, introduced in 1984, upgraded to a 512K Fat Mac. The Macintosh or Mac, is a line of personal computers designed, developed, manufactured, and marketed by Apple Computer. ... For other software named Rosetta, see Rosetta (disambiguation). ... An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ... For other software named Rosetta, see Rosetta (disambiguation). ... PowerPC is a RISC microprocessor architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM. Originally intended for personal computers, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular embedded and high-performance processors as well. ... In computing, binary translation is the emulation of one instruction set by another through translation of code. ... OSx86 running on a Hackintosh OSx86 is a collaborative hacking project to run the Mac OS X computer operating system on non-Apple personal computers with x86 architecture processors. ... TDi GmbH is a company that provides solutions for software license protection and internet login with headquarters offices in Dortmund, Germany as well as in Zug, Switzerland. ...

Microsoft is planning to reduce common Windows based software cracking with the release of the NGSCB initiative in future versions of their operating system.[citation needed] Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... Windows redirects here. ... The Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), formerly known as Palladium, is a software architecture designed by Microsoft which is expected to implement parts of the controversial Trusted Computing concept on future versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system. ... An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. ...


  1. ^ Why Piracy Hurts Open Source.
Indie, an abbreviation of independent, is a term regarding a trend seen in music, film, business and subculture originating in the late 20th century. ... For the publisher Alternative Comics, see Alternative Comics (publisher). ... A fanzine (see also: zine) is a nonprofessional publication produced by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. ... An Amateur Press Association or APA is a group of people who produce individual pages or magazines that are sent to a Central Mailer for collation and distribution to all members of the group. ... The Dun Emer Press in 1903 with Elizabeth Yeats working the hand press Small press is a term often used to describe publishers who typically specialize in genre fiction, or limited edition books or magazines. ... A minicomic is a small, creator-published comic book, often photocopied and stapled or with a handmade binding. ... Minicomics Co-Ops: The United Fanzine Organization, or UFO, is a co-op of minicomic creators that has existed since about 1968. ... In popular music, independent music, often abbreviated as indie, is a term used to describe genres, scenes, subcultures, styles and other cultural attributes in music, characterized by their independence from major commercial record labels and their autonomous, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing. ... An independent record label is variously described as a record label operating without the funding (or outside the organizations) of the major record labels, and/or a label that subscribes to indie philosophies such as DIY and anti-corporate art. ... Categories: Wikipedia cleanup | Stub ... An independent film, or indie film, is usually a low-budget film that is produced by a small movie studio. ... Home Movies is a dialogue-driven animated series about 8-year-old Brendon Small (voiced by the creator, head writer, and lead musician of Home Movies Brendon Small), who makes films with his friends, Melissa and Jason, in his spare time. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... An independent station is a television station that is not affiliated with any network. ... Grindhouse redirects here. ... The double feature, also known as a double bill, was a motion picture industry phenomenon in which theatre managers would exhibit two films for the price of one, supplanting an earlier format in which one feature film and various short subject reels would be shown. ... The King of the Bs, Roger Corman, produced and directed The Raven (1963) for American International Pictures. ... This is a history of the early decades of the B movie, from its roots in the silent era through Hollywoods Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s. ... This is a history of B movies in the 1950s. ... This is a history of B movies in the 1960s and 1970s. ... This is a history of B movies from the 1980s to the present. ... Z-movie (or Grade-Z movie) is a term applied to films with an extremely low budget and a miserable quality. ... A classic midnight movie in every sense of the term, Tod Brownings Freaks (1932) is the sort of (then) obscure horror film shown on late-night TV beginning in the 1950s; in the 1970s and early 1980s it was a staple of midnight screenings at theaters around the U... Homebrew is a term frequently applied only to video games that are produced by consumers on proprietary game platforms; in other words, game platforms that are not typically user-programmable, or use proprietary hardware for storage. ... An amateur adventure game is a freeware computer game belonging to the adventure genre. ... An indie role-playing game is a role-playing game published outside of traditional, mainstream means. ... -1... Independent soda is soft drink generally made by smaller privately run businesses or smaller corporations who use alternative marketing strategies to promote their product. ... For other meanings, see Homebrew. ... The indie design movement is made up of independent designers, artists and craftspeople who design and make a wide array of products without being part of large, industrialized businesses. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Software cracking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1027 words)
Distribution of cracked software ("warez"), or patches to circumvent software protection on software (commonly known as "cracks") is generally an illegal (or more recently, criminal) act of copyright infringement.
Similar cracks are available for software that requires a hardware dongle.
Although these cracks are used by legal buyers of software they can also be used by people who have downloaded or otherwise obtained pirated software (often through P2P networks).
  More results at FactBites »



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