How to protect better

Why crackers crack?
(Reversing Fravias' psychology)

(a late November interesting thread at Fravia's)


I have 'saved' the following contributions from my experimental message board, which at times compensates the hassle involved in maintaining it with some little pearls. Why do we crack? The thread that +mISu started on my board, far from being a banal question inter nos, as you will see reading the contributions below, will convince anyone interested in our work that 'real reality' (excuse the pun) is -as usual- far more complex than the usual banal stereotypical truths would have us believe. Fittingly enough, I have decided to publish this thread under the 'How to protect better' section, because I believe that a deeper knowledge of our motivation could help protectionists when they choose a protection scheme. In other words, a good advice, after having read the messages below, would probably be to choose the most boring and banal protection scheme they know of. That would keep most Fravias at by... :-)
As long as my own reversing ('exegesis') skills can tell, all the following contributions are (almost completely) 'sincere'... this of course does not mean anything per se on the web, what I mean is that they have mostly been written 'on the fly' on a messageboard, the most 'ephemeral' among the many ephemeral media on this netherworld of ours. I didn't 'clean' the contributions. I even left some sideways, like the small "confrontation" between kuririn and freeman because I believe that the whole context of this thread is worth reading as a whole and that some of the thoughts expressed there are in fact quite pertinent to the original question. A deep question indeed: Why do we crack?

Why do we crack?
Friday, 20-Nov-98 23:30:17

We are talking here about cracking and reversing programs, but why?. Has
anybody asked himself why he cracks?
Well I'm asking everybody who has eyes to see, ears to hear, why do we
crack? It's a long waited question and you got to have an answer, all of you.


Boredom Saturday, 21-Nov-98 14:37:37 1) Because it's really hard to kill time when you're unemployed. 2) It's fun. 3) To seek adventure and excitement and really cool stuff. 4) Because my friend asked me. 5) Because you don't need to reinvent the wheel if you can borrow someone else's car. 6) Youthful rebellion against the software pigs. 7) Some say it's because I have no life -- that's completely wrong. This _is_ my life, and they're idiots. 8) The devil made me do it. 9) To explore strange new code, to seek out new protections and new encryption routines, to boldly NOP where no compiler has NOPped before. 10) "The money and the girlies." Damn Crackers
Re: Why do we crack? Saturday, 21-Nov-98 16:00:00 In my opinion,there are several reasons about "why"; probably, some reasons are generally shared, whereas others are strictly subjective. For the majority (I guess), cracking is a sort of intellectual challenge; many of us crack programs that never be used. Besides, there are more "subtle" reasons for the challenge; +ORC said: "Strange as it may seem, the reasons for cracking are very important for the success of our task. We (at least we old crackers) crack AGAINST society, and OPPOSING laws and conventions. [...] If you do accept the society where we are compelled to live, its awfully egoistic way of life and its dirty "profit" values, you may eventually learn how to disable some simple protections, but you’ll never be able to crack in the "right" way. [...] So you better take a good look around you... you’ll find plenty of reasons to hate society and act against it, plenty of sparks to crackle programs in the right way... " and I have found that it is true and real, even if I don't know how many crackers will share this concept. A very personal reason is, for me: I want to know what happens, in any moment, inside my system. We, as computer users, stand in a very peculiar position; we cannot disassemble, reverse etc. (we all know the licence terms) any application, but the programmers can hide, during installation or run-time, any kind of file on OUR hard disk, any kind of information on OUR registry, making growing and damaging our system directory, and this only in order to avoid any possible and hypothetic attempt of an "illegal" use of their programs. They can legally do anything, we cannot do anything. Well, I refuse this situation, and cracking is, for me, the highest expression of a such refusal. This aspect is even more exalted in Microsoft behaviour, but I don't want to extend excessively this discussion (I don't want to bore you to death). The only reason that DON'T drive me to crack is obtaining programs for free; BTW, I have lot of friends that can give me any copy of any appz on the market from the early '90, for free. Yet I always wanted my freedom for free. -Freeman
absolute rubbish Sunday, 22-Nov-98 06:22:44 since this board is probably soon for the afterlife, and since this quote of +orc's irritates me... well here it is, total crap from a vice ridden coxcomb. I too believe that there are problems with society and its conflict with the "good", but pardon me for suggesting that this borders a trifle on the petty.It's base and pessimistic (the old crackers eh? perhaps the great men sitting up in Valhalla the untouchable warriors of code). Anyway... look is there not an idealistic soul in this entire "group" of highly intelligent people, or have you nothing left but to whine for freedom (by moving bits here and there the growl in the belly is sanctioned a farthings worth of peace). What is this but a sad note to futher endorse the sentiment of "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" which is by the way a mistake to even coin coz god and religon are now relegated to opinion, and I'm sure t. kempis had in mind other things when he penned that phrase. What it turns out to be in actuality is that software cracking (as an art or a facilitating factor in getting laid, praised or elated) is that it will continue so long as it isthought needed (men taking up their armaments; dissasemblers,debuggers and the like) and fighting the hell out of each other making some good programmers (good people) suffer permitting others accordance to broach the space where the former now lies in ruin --while the sophistication of the programming itself sadly remains static i.e.,(in statu quo). heh the antiphony for a long days labour in front of the screen. Oppose laws and conventions eh? sounds nice...but what in the hell does it mean? Think about this for a moment, will you gain an ounce of understanding for this by passing the night away breaking the 30 day trial lock on winzip, you win they lose (when did the idea of game ever enter in upon this)...not very lucid shit crack your masters (crack +orc, why hasn't there been at least one essay on this fellow? - outside of the speculation which promotes him as a legeand thereby pushing him further out of reach as the days pass coz soon he'll like Romulus have "sublimis abiit"... Crack this aenigmator! or like fools you will watch him fly off into the heavens). Let society asphixiate in its own offal, separate from it; besides what in the hell is society but a ridiculous abstraction, better that societies should crumble, coz they are nada but an instrument for the enhancement of power and personality of the individual (and for christ's sake never percieve yourself as the victim it's the choice of perception folks... either you believe yourself externally influenced or internally empowered). Save your energy from the pit of invective and don't concentrate your efforts into a specialized field (where will that send you but backward to a dark room for more petty larceny.. ). Dislocate from the guild of humanity and specilize in mercilessness ... So that's what Hell is: I'd never have believed it...Do you remember, brimstone, the stake, the gridiron?... What a joke! No need of a gridiron, Hell is other people. kuririn
Re: absolute rubbish Sunday, 22-Nov-98 15:43:11 Kuririn's post, undoubtely, raises remarkable questions; but it is impossible here to deal with all them, (also because I guess that it isn't worth the effort). But I want to state two arguments The first is concerning +ORC. As you can see (I hope!) taking a look around you, the human beings are interested in very different activities. For example, some people, during the weekends, have fun in flying a little around hanged to a hanglider; some other may prefer playing chess, and so on. Some people like the reverse engineering, and for this people, there are things or persons that can become very important; for the hangliders pilots or chess players, the same things or persons would not be so fundamental. In the world of cracking, +ORC has represented, as matter of fact, a point of reference, and this has become even clearer when he disappeared. I don't want to put him in any Valhalla (even if I sincerely hope that he is in a sort of Valhalla); I simply acknowledge that his contribution is precious, and this is the reason of my quote. Perhaps his philosophy (that, moreover, I absolutely share) may be a bit simplicistic, but it don't seems to me that yours is more profound. If you guess that his work is stupid or useless, try to do better. Show us, please, your invaluable competence in reversing and in Assembly programming, so we can appreciate it (you have already showed your philosophy, and it is enough, thanks!). Don't tell us, please, about "good programmers, good people"; the so called "piracy" has been the only basis of microinformatic market (hard and soft) for a decade at least. What are, in your opinion, the most "pirated" programs in the world? And who is the richest man in the world? The second question regards the argument of this discussion. The original question was "Why we crack?" and not "What is the only thing that you are actually doing in order to fight against society and his laws?" When I read "Why we crack", I guess that I must reply about the reasons why "I" crack, while another cracker will speak about "his" reasons, and so on; and this because I have no idea about the reasons of ALL crackers, and I can't reply in name of all crackers. Why should I crack? I can have for free all the programs I want. Damn Crackers said "for money and girlies", but I have a lot of money, a beautiful car (both derived from my job, and not from cracking) and thousands of girls (this because I'm tall, beautiful, intelligent, rich and, above all, very modest :-) Why should I crack? Well, the reasons are those I have listed. You can share them or not, but you can't criticize. And you can't criticize because you don't know anything about me. You don't know anything about my job, about my friends, about my way of life. I have never said "The only way I fight against society is by cracking programs"; I have said "I like cracking because it is, for me, one (of few? of many?) way for this fight". If you are able, through this only assertion, to deduce my global behaviour, my philosophy and my way of life, you are a genius or a perfect idiot. And I have never known a genius in my life...... Freeman P.S.: BTW, I have never whined in my lifetime. Don't attribute to others your own habits........
Re: Re: absolute rubbish Monday, 23-Nov-98 04:51:11 heh, Freeman, i have to say you dismantled my "invective" quite well. All my quoting of moronic extestenialists, and such. Hey, remember at least that i admitted to my incompetance at the start. so i am an idiot and you don't whine... smile in your harem, crack your progams and be well. the scales are in balence eh? kuririn PS: >Shows us, please, your invaluable competence in >reversing and in Assembly programming, so we can >appreciate it. You will (as your own request decrees) give me a single challenge (of which I will accept w/two weeks to accomplish) a program of your choosing... a dos/win program (with a specific point in mind i.e., what you want done). Email me soon, Mr Freeman, with the exact name of the program & its size.
Re: freeman Monday, 23-Nov-98 16:30:00 This is in any case my last reply to an useless discussion, because I don't want to lend such a tone to a discussion with another cracker, whoever he is. BTW this is a further reason for appreciating +ORC works (totally different tones when he was present on the Web)... however... neither I, nor any other cracker, need your cracks. +ORC has attracted the attention and catalyzed the work of many crackers; his worth dwells in his lessons, and not in commissioned cracking. Do it better, so I can quote you, rather than +ORC, in my future messages. Freeman
Re: Why do we crack? Saturday, 21-Nov-98 18:34:36 Can i give this a shot... this post will not excite the sense but will at least push the obvious motivations into the light imo. 1) cracking the protection schemes in programs to a) be able to use the program for free b) understand how the protection works (in order to write your own ... (or) to educate people in the weakness of said protection (or) simply for the challenge, execercise for the brain (or) to impress your neighbors. -- n.b., compare those that publish cracks versus those that don't and those that publish essays versus those that don't, and judge for yourself. 2) reversing other parts of the code (or entire programs), more difficult and almost certainly edifying. Motivations: well this sphere points to a more serious type of programmer (since it takes more time therefore a higher level of dedication/concentration). No quick cracks here, just the man grappleing with the code (someone who feel serious about "knowing" what goes on (whether for the purpose of optimising some code or to blanketly --dependent upon skill ... adulterate or amerliorate a program (where the code is not available), still somewhat (or entirely renegade, no i'm not saying illegal) since it is fooling around with "stuff" that the original programmer probably doesn't want looked at (or not); now in the case of Fravia+'s anti ms campaign you see a different motivation altogether ... now it happens to be that this is probably not so efficent a way to develop your own progs (i.e., look for what is freely availble before tearing apart a program), but e.g., if you enter a business environment where a programmer had just left (and had written databases &c that noone knows what in the hell to do with, reverse engineering is most likely "invaluble" in such a a case --or the obvious virus infection. On a surface/personal level it would be like "why do you like to take old cars apart or electronic equipment or whatever" it "ideally" separates you from the blase consumerism and projects a knowledge = freedom type of attitude or simply this is what I like to do (to take my mind of death or what have you). Besides knowing how to make "enter item here" better working, practising a "techne" such as this promises freedom from the three greatest evils pronounced in Candide "poverty, boredom and vice?" Also (a warning of sorts) questions like this might turn your inititive into a stone garter (first is to crack your way out of your own sack so to speak)... at any rate I leave this to those who understand it better (and of course with two quotes, coz I think best vicariously through others :) Pangloss -"for when man was first placed in the Garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, that he might cultivate it; which shows that man was not born to idle." (wish I could read french!) -- Baudelaire "As a remedy against all ills - poverty, sickness and melancholy - only one thing is absolutely neccessary: a liking for work. kuririn
Re: Why do we crack? Tuesday, 24-Nov-98 03:51:56 I don't have money to buy programs and i don't have money for phone bill to search cracks for No really, i started to crack because i couldn't find a crack for a program that i wanted so i stay on my chair and start learning.Internet is a big school anyway. Thats my reason and at least im honest i am not looking to find nirvana cracking. But i must admit after your first crack is like drug,you want more and more.Now i'm cracking just for the challenge. Maybe i'm a shallow guy and my motives are poor but thats me. Have fun and crack guys. dracula
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 01:29:04 Why do i crack? well, ive been programming for quite a while now. I just recently earned an A.S. in computer programming,mainly studying high-level languages. i was saddened that we only took a 5 week course in assembly. im just at the point right now, that i wanted something new to do. something challenging, and i think i speak for all of us when i say that cracking is a very challenging art form. Im very new to it and only have a few cracks under my belt, but also i think i do it for the thrill. but that is just me. opcode_h
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 03:21:30 I personally crack for a few different reasons: 1) I like for all of my shareware to be registered...I hate nagscreens, disabled functions, or programs telling me they won't run. 2) I am a programmer, so reversing software gives me a little insight into how to do things that I would otherwise not know how to do. 3) Its a game...they try to protect...I try to de-protect...Sometimes I win, sometimes they win. I have cracked programs then uninstalled them, and never used them again. I believe I even caused WinZip to release another version of 6.3. I cracked it the first day it was out, and uploaded a patch to a few Warez I notice there are a few different versions of 6.3 floating around...the only difference is the icons...even the points in the program that I patch have the same values, only in the new version it either checksums or checks the values of these points. That made me feel good...I feel I have beaten winzip... :) 4) Bragging rights...I don't know (in real life) a single other person who can do it, and my friends revere me as a software god. :) (maybe a little meglomaniacal, but so what) 5) Because you can only look for warez and porn for so long before getting sick of your computer. It's ample distraction delivered at a timely rate...the goal of life, afterall. (Maybe another reality cracking essay is in order) 6) I was conditioned to do so. (see reality cracking) NOTE: all of these are software reversing reasons, if you want others...ask. Pan (Pantheon)
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 05:32:09 Because I refuse to be a lobotomized lemming controlled by concealed codes wether in programs or in society. It helps keeping the brain fit too. ieFaF
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 23:00:46 I crack to increase capabilities and powers of a program, to make it what it should be. It is lame to make a program and protect it by limiting its strength to nothing just because you are greedy and wanna make money fast. Look at all this shareware programmers. They build their FIRST program and protect it to make it 30-days, or not to have all the functions... If you want to protect a program, then don't give it to anyone until he gives you the money. +mISu
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 12:23:55 Because forbidden knowledge is the most beguiling kind. W_B
Re: Why do we crack? Sunday, 22-Nov-98 16:58:57 I was once asked by a Mystical Monk, "Why do you crack?" I replied, "Because I can." DragonSpike
Re: Why do we crack? Monday, 23-Nov-98 11:58:21 And enlightenment was thrust upon him, kicking and screaming and bewailing his lot.... Actually, in a certain "reductionist" way, DragonSpike's is the most honest answer I've seen posted yet (though Damn Crackers gets points for style with his Letterman routine ;). It leads one to further ask, "Why then have you learned to crack?", and to the eventual conclusion "So that I could." Which, information theory, ethical philosophy, and rationalization in general aside, is all one can really say about cracking. _m (+mammon_)
Re: Why do we crack? Monday, 23-Nov-98 15:35:04 Because I can't... yet. Jeff
Re: Why do we crack? Monday, 23-Nov-98 19:12:05 This is a tough question. 1.When I had learned to program, there was no one to teach me well. So the best way I found out (in teaching myself) was and is to read and understand what others have written somewhen and to try to figure out why they choose one or another way. 1a. when there is a source, read it. when there is no source, try re-build it. when there is no program at all, try to imagine what the hell it has to do and (may be) why it does not exist yet (with 3 possible answers: coz it is meaningless/impossible, coz you have not found it yet, coz you are god and now will invent the wheel). This sentence is applicable not only on soft/hard/ware. 2. cracking is the only way you show to yourself something is under your ruling. If you get a car, that can do anything itself alone, are you required there? 3. when there is no free info streams, cracking is the only way to get that info or to figure out what it could be. This is not only in software/science; this is in cracking of All. And for me this is the most important reason, coz I've been very long behind the iron curtain; it was not good from any point of view except that you were trained by the reality to crack (or die). Therefore, IMO, the question goes again into info/knowledge/freedom fields. SvD
Re: Why do we crack? Tuesday, 24-Nov-98 00:06:39 The reason i crack is quite simple. I have a major self esteem problem and unfortanatly too much time and inteligence on my hands. I love a computer and live with it (dammit she always gives me the cold shoulder on those lonely nights). But also with this increase in knowledge comes a better understanding of what a computer truly is and what it can do. int21hex
Re: Why do we crack? Tuesday, 24-Nov-98 19:40:52 Why do we crack ?? When I began programming, (the very ancient Apple Basic believe it or not), I found out that I was good at it. I enjoyed it. So that's what I pursued. Soon realising how limited Basic is, and then C, I am now moving into C++. So when I stumbled upon Fravia's site, very impressive I must say, I saw a way to broaden my studies. And why not. I tried it, I liked it, And I am good at it. I don't crack for ' a profit ', nor do I release my cracks, but I crack for the challenge of doing it. Software companies make better protections..... So we make better cracks. That's all there is to it. If there's no challenge, then it wouldn't be fun. JAS
Re: Why do we crack? Wednesday, 25-Nov-98 14:26:48 1) Challenge. 2) Education. 3) Necessity. An example of point 3 : I am presently working on a Win95/98 VxD that taps into M$'s NDIS in order to play with network packets before they reach the stack (inbound) and after leaving the stack (outbound). I managed to get this driver working in 95, but it did not work in 98. The only way to determine what M$ had changed between the two versions was to reverse. (of course M$'s documentation on this makes no mention of their changes). What would I have been able to do without reversing skills? The only thing that I can see would be to have rented a M$ engineer for a gazillion $$$'s an hour to get the info that I needed. No thanks! Bouncer
Re: Why do we crack? Thursday, 26-Nov-98 05:56:48 Well I view cracking in the same light as I view doing a puzzle or a Brain Teaser. I like the challenge and those things cause us to put on our thinking caps and think. I think it's this certain feeling of acomplishment when it's all over that drives us. Some like do push themselves physically. Ex. Skydiving, Mountain Climbing, etc. Others get the same kind of satisfaction by pushing themselves mentally. Ex. Math, Cracking, Programming, etc... It all boils down to Acomplishing what you set out to do. I think it's a kind of rush that addicts us. When I crack something I don't only feel Self-Acomplishment but I feel Powerful. This is what drives me for more. The rewards from things that push us to our outer limits are usually nice as well. In the case of Cracking the rewards are a registered program to be used how you see fit, But most importantly the reward of Knowlege is granted. I also get pleasure from knowing that I defeated a protection scheme to an over-priced and poorly programmed file. I think that if the Software is useful then pay for it. I like what the author of Genius 2.0 did. He has given the people a chance to have it for free and if they like it they can put their own value on it by donating money. It's the greedy Bill Gates wannabe's that really give me motivation as well as the knowlege obtained afterward:) This is the reason I love to crack:) CyberKill (Cyber Crew 98)

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