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nice read (Razor1911 interview from 1990's )

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---=[ 5. Interview - InsaneTTM - Razor 1911 Founder ]--------------------------

INQ: Okay, I'd like to welcome you to this Inquisition interview and would

like to thank you for taking the time. Very first question, what is your

full handle and where are you from?

TTM: Sure, no probs. As long as there are no emergency calls I hopefully can

answer all the questions. My handle is InsaneTTM, I come from Trondheim

Norway. TTM stands for The Tractor Maniac. ;)

INQ: Could you briefly describe the founding of Razor 1911 and how the first

few years developed?

TTM: We were just kids. In 1985 the three founding members where at the

incredible age of 13, 14 and 14, so you can imagine that alot of games

were played. But, after a while we soon started to get interested in

demos. The specific date is not remebered but, during October 1985 three

guys, Myself, Secotr9 and Dr NO, decided to get a kewl name.

INQ: Who is "we," that is, who helped you found razor and what did each of you

do?

TTM: After going through piles of bad ones we ended up with Razor 1911.

INQ: Where did the name come from? Why 1911?

TTM: Well in the beginning nobody had dedicated stuff to do; it was just

like - Hey guys lets start a group.

INQ: So Razor started as a demo group on what platform?

TTM: Well, a friend of ours called Hellmates came up with Razor and we

instantly felt that this one was great. The number was actually 2992 in

the very beginning but was later changed to 1911. The reason why we

wanna have a number is that every kewl group at the time being used

numbers - like Flash Cracking Group 1941, Section 8, Electronic Cracking

Association 1998, ABC 1999, Jedi 2001, 1103 and so on. The platform

Razor started to work on was Commodore 64. The number 1911 is $777 in

hexadecimal. Because at the time, a lot of kids used 666 and such

childish stuff; we just went the opposite way as 7 is the number of the

good.

INQ: How did razor grow and when do you think were the best times for Razor?

TTM: Hmm.. We grew up from the Commodore 64, to the Amiga. On the amiga, our

very first releases came. It wasn't actually until 1989 our first

releases came. We had problems getting our hands on the originals, as

every new group with no structure had. But, then everything started to

roll. We got our first overseas member, Zodact, that had a board. So,

we went into the modem scene at the same time.

INQ: What was the competition like with INC? What about Fairlight or THG?

Who was the most competitive, and what was the competition for in the

early days? I mean, with the modem scene, and the distribution of

releases.

TTM: Now we did games on a regular basis for a while, and on the amiga until

91, we had some 50 releases. Then, the next step was to get into the PC

world. At the time we got into the PC, as you said INC and THg were the

leading forces, but after all the years in the business, we had a lot of

contacts everywhere and were able to get some real action together. We

were so fortunate that in our close neighborhood we had a young cracker

named Darwin. A lot of amusing stories about those days. He once had to

crack the game over the phone to some guy in the US before leaving for

school in the morning, didn't have the time to upload it!! And then went

home during his lurch to check that it finally was released. And from

there on everything grew and grew.

TTM: The best days for Razor must have been on PC during the spring of 93. We

had enough cards to have the rule the entire scene. We're talking about

the 1993 edition of Razor's European courier team consisting of

RazorBlade, Devil, Hoppermania, GrimLock, Insane TTM, Slain and Digital

Justice which made the every other courier teams in the world look like

plain amateurs.

INQ: Was this around the time Darwin was busted?

TTM: Nope, Darwin wans't busted. He actually was outta the scene in 93.

In fact as he was and still is a close friend of Razorblade. My most

memorable moment probably was the easter of 93. We had 5 huge releases

in 4 days. Trading round the clock; it was the most thrilling

experience. We just beat the crap out of everyone else on all 5

releases. I had almost no sleep for the days, should just go to bed.

When the phone rang and said "We got a release in a couple of hours, get

ready." The sadly in a forthnight, when were at the ultimate top. I was

busted, together with Baal and Gene here in Norway. S9 and DRno luckily

escaped.

INQ: For cards?

TTM: After 10th of May 93, I have been out of the business. Just watching

what's happening with the group, and I am proud to see that WE still are

a major force. I was busted for CC, yeah.

INQ: How were the releases being distributed? To what boards? What baud rate

were these at?

TTM: At the end, we had 14.4 and 16.8 modems. As mentioned above, the courier

team from hell did the most of it during the golden age. We had one line

at our main board, and one line at every other major board around -

covering everything. Hanging in there downloading all the disks except

the first where the cracks usually are being placed - waiting for the

cracker to upload it and then, BOOM! We get it everywhere in just

minutes. ;) Ahh, what a feeling.

INQ: What major boards were memorable for you?

TTM: Hmm... Major board. Digging in the back parts of my brain - Elusive

Dream and Pitts are our rival board. We have had like zillions of

boards during the time, but getting into the rivals boards is always a

great deal of fun.

INQ: How do you feel about subsequent leaders? What about TRC, Butcher, even

today with TSR and The GEcko?

TTM: On the issue of our leaders. The one I have had most contact with is

probably Butcher. He was a very kewl guy when you got to know him. He

was sadly busted too. Today's leaders I must say I don't know at all. I

won't get into the business again. As I have got a kewl job with full

INET connection.

INQ: What are you doing now? What do you think of the scene today? What

about BBS's? Are they better or worse than before?

TTM: I ususally hang around on the IRC all day to see when we release

something. Since I was busted 2 1/2 years ago, Internet has taken over

alot of the distribution, plus the trading scene is being shut down in

one country after another. So alot of sites are replacing boards as we

used to know them.

INQ: What do you think of the internet and the effect it has had on the scene?

Do you think the scene will survive?

TTM: As long as there is games/utils being developed there will always be a

scene around.

INQ: Do you think that there needs to be some sort of "elite" for the scene to

function correctly? If so, what makes someone elite? Do you think that

the net has increased the lameness in the scene?

TTM: There will always be "elite" and there will always be wannabees. And for

the scene to function properly there will always be a need for elites to

be there. Elite could stand for somebody that can organize properly.

INQ: The CDRip/NET question.

TTM: Hmm.. CDRips. There are two kinds of CDRips.

1. The good ones by usually quality groups.

2. The lame/bad ones froim new groups trying to break into the scene.

The latter is like ripping everything that was suppose to be released.

Like 60 disk releases! If you are a SysOp and read this, nuke people

that upload such stuff x5 at least.

INQ: Do you think there will ever be a time when games are too big to pirate?

INQ: What would you say the disk limit for a rip should be?

TTM: Hmm.. Well I won't say anything because the quality of games vary, but

more than 30 disks is like meaningless to me. One of my flatmates came

home with a 29 disk game here one day. I don't understand why people

care about copying of all of the disks.

INQ: Well, thank you very much for your time, and it was very nice talking.

This interview was conducted on November 28, 1995 by Darwin/DWi.

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This is pure gold. Thanks for sharing!

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ignore this

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Interesting read.

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/ flooding this thread just like on irc. hehehe

-----------------------------------------------------------

WAREZ WARS:

For the Inner Circle, cracking software is a challenge.

For the wannabe underground, collecting it is an

obsession. For the software industry, it's a billion-dollar

nightmare.

-----------------------------------------------------------

By David McCandless

Sunday morning, 7 a.m., somewhere in US Eastern Standard

Time: Mad Hatter gets up, has a glass of Seagram's Ginger

Ale and a cigarette, and checks his machine, which has been

running automated scripts all night. He looks for errors and

then reads his email. He has 30 messages from all over the

world: some fan mail, a couple of flames, a few snippets of

interesting information, three or four requests - some clear,

some PGP-encoded. After a quick espresso and another

cigarette, he surveys the contents of a few private FTP sites,

filters through a bunch of new files, and then reroutes the good

stuff to his newsreader. After breakfast with the family,

another wave of automated scripts kicks in. The ISDN

connection hums to life. A steady stream of bytes departs his

machine 128 Kbps and vanishes into the ether. By the end of

the day Mad Hatter, a ringleader of the software piracy group

called the Inner Circle, will have poured 300 Mbytes of illegal

"warez" onto the Internet.

Monday morning, 9 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time: Phil arrives

for work in Bracknell, England, in a suit and tie, just back from

a few days in Switzerland. Inside Novell UK's glossy five-story

headquarters, he lets himself into his office. It looks like a

mad, bad bedroom - shiny desktops and derelict ones,

disemboweled minitowers and battered servers, every last

expansion slot distended with DAT machines, CD-ROM

burners, extra hard drives. A metal shelf unit contains a rack

of monitors, some video equipment, spare keyboards.

Everything is wired insanely to a single ISDN line. After a

coffee, Phil boots up and skims his email. Twenty minutes

later he has ceased to be Phil. For the next week, he will

pretend to be a trader, a courier, a cracker, a newbie, a

lamer, a lurker, a leecher. He is an undercover Internet

detective, a "technical investigator." He spends his days

roving the Net, finding people like Mad Hatter - and busting

them.

This is a story about a universe with two parallel, overlapping

worlds. One is the familiar, dull world of the software industry,

with its development costs, marketing teams, profit, and loss.

Phil's world, at least part of the day.

And then there is warez world, the Mad Hatter's world, a

strange place of IRC channels and Usenet groups, of thrills,

prestige, and fear. A world of expert crackers who strip the

protection from expensive new software and upload copies

onto the Net within days of its release. A world of wannabes

and collectors, whose hard drives are stuffed like stamp

albums, with programs they'll never use. And a world of profit

pirates, who do exactly what the software makers say: rip off

other people's stuff and sell it for their own benefit.

In Phil's world, software is a valuable tool that commands high

prices - programs like QuarkXPress, Windows NT, and

AutoCAD, costing thousands of dollars a shot. But in Mad

Hatter's world, those sticker prices means nothing - except

inasmuch as more expensive programs are harder to crack,

and that makes them the most desirable, spectacular trophies

of all.

In Phil's world, warez are a menace. In warez world, Phil is.

------------

Filthy lucre

------------

Phil's world is full of nasty numbers. Antipiracy organizations

like the Software Publishers Association and Business

Software Alliance estimate that more than US$5 million worth

of software is cracked and uploaded daily to the Net, where

anyone can download it free of charge. A running scoreboard

on the BSA Web site charts the industry's losses to piracy:

$482 a second, $28,900 a minute, $1.7 million an hour, $41.6

million a day, $291.5 million a week. A lot of that is

garden-variety unlicensed copying and Far East-style

counterfeiting. But an estimated one-third leaks out through

warez world, which can be anywhere there's a computer, a

phone, and a modem.

This is bad news for the business. Think of the lost revenue!

The lost customers! "It's a frightening scenario out there,"

says Martin Smith, Novell's product-licensing manager for

Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. "We are seeing a very,

very rapid development of crime on the Internet."

He's not being paranoid: look at the thousands of messages

that pour through alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc and the other

Usenet sites that are the warez world's pulsing heart. In a

typical week, you'll see Microsoft Office Pro and Visual C++,

Autodesk 3D Studio MAX, SoftImage 3D, SoundForge,

Cakewalk Pro Audio, WordPerfect, Adobe Photoshop 4.0 -

virtually every high-end package in existence. All this plus

impossibly early betas and alphas. Add a smattering of

mundane Web tools, Net apps, registered shareware,

games, and utilities, and you have everything for the

forward-looking computer user.

Warez world's volumes are impressive, too - a good 65

Mbytes a day of freshly cracked, quality new releases,

chopped into disk-sized portions (to make it from one hop to

the next without clogging the servers), compressed, and

uploaded. Postings can vary from a few bytes (for a crack) to

hundreds of megabytes. The nine main warez sites alone

account for 30 to 40 percent of the traffic on Usenet, an

average of more than 500 Mbytes in downloads every 24

hours, according to OpNet.

Bad news indeed for Phil and his friends, gazing at those

endless dollar signs. But warez world's leading citizens say

that filthy lucre is beside the point - at least for them and the

hungry collectors they supply.

"No money ever exchanges hands in our forum," says

California Red, one of a half dozen of the Mad Hatter's Inner

Circle colleagues gathered for an IRC chat.

"We're on the nonprofit side of the warez feeding chain,"

insists another, TAG (The Analog Guy).

"It's a trade. You give what you have, get something you need.

No money needed," adds Clickety.

"We're not in it for the money. I would never sell something I

got from warez," California Red reiterates.

"Never made a dime," says Mad Hatter.

Even Phil admits these are not the people responsible - not

directly, anyhow - for the 500-Mbyte, $50 bundled software

CD-ROMs from Asia that are the industry's most prominent

nightmare. Warez crackers, traders, and collectors don't

pirate software to make a living: they pirate software because

they can. The more the manufacturers harden a product, with

tricky serial numbers and anticopy systems, the more fun it

becomes to break. Theft? No: it's a game, a pissing contest;

a bunch of dicks and a ruler. It's a hobby, an act of bloodless

terrorism. It's "#$%# you, Microsoft." It's about having

something the other guy doesn't. It's about telling him that you

have something he doesn't and forcing him to trade

something he has for something you don't.

In other words, it's an addiction. Listen to a typical dialog on

an IRC warez trading channel:

"What you got?"

"Cubase three."

"What's that?"

"A music program."

"I got it. What else?"

"No, but it's Cubase three-oh-three - the latest bugfix."

"$hit. Gimme."

"It's not a patch. It's another seven meg download."

"Don't care. I want it."

Warez traders scour the newsgroups every night, planting

requests, downloading file parts they don't need. Warezheads

feel unfulfilled unless they've swelled their coffers by at least

one application a day. They don't need this Java

Development Kit tool, or that Photoshop plug-in - the thrill is in

creating the new subdirectory and placing the tightly packed

and zipped file cleanly, reverently, into the collection. They

may even install it. Then toy absentmindedly with its toolbars

and palettes before tucking it away and never running it again.

Look at Michael, an 18-year-old warez junkie who's also into

weight lifting. In the evenings, while his friends pursue women,

he's either at the gym or home at his machine, combing the

planet for the latest dot releases of 3D Studio MAX. "I bought

a Zip drive so I could store it all. The SoftImage rip is 20

disks. It took me three months to get the entire set." A

directory called WAREZ on his D:/ drive has $50,000 worth of

cracked software, more than any one person could ever use,

ludicrous amounts of applications. The more high-end and

toolbar-tastic the app, the better. Without technical support or

manuals, he hasn't a clue how to use most of it. But it's there

and will stay there. "Warez give you a weird kind of feeling,"

he says. "You end up collecting programs you don't need and

never use. Just so you can say, 'I've got this or I've got that.' Or

'My version of Photoshop is higher than yours.'"

Mad Hatter knows the feeling. "It's an obsessive game. We

see it every day - people begging for something to 'finish their

collection.'" He's not much better himself. "When I was out of

work on disability, I was totally motivated by the thrill of

massive uploads, uploading at least 40 Mbytes a day for four

months straight." Fellow Inner Circle member Clickety used to

spend 12 hours a day online until college got "awful heavy."

Another, Abraxas, spends 6 to 10 hours online on weekdays,

12 to 16 on weekends. But Mad Hatter - who runs the

semi-tongue-in-cheek, semi-poker-faced discussion group

alt.support.warez.recovery - is making progress: he's down to

30 Mbytes a day. "My computer is online 24 hours a day," he

says. "A warez pirate is always online."

-------

As gods

-------

For Joe Warez Addict at the end of the cracked software food

chain, membership in a group like the Inner Circle is the

ultimate collectible. A way to legitimize their addiction, work

for the common good, and, of course, get a nice fresh supply

of warez. The drug addict becomes dealer. A sizable chunk of

Mad Hatter's daily mail is begging letters.

"I hope that if I ask this question, you will not be offended in

any way. But can I join the Inner Circle? I mean, I respect the

Inner Circle ... but never got a chance to join it. I was just

wondering, can I? Please mail me back ASAP."

Needless to say, this lone obsessive didn't get his chance.

Joining the Inner Circle is nigh on impossible. Reaching its

members, though, is easy enough. They keep a high profile,

both in posting files on Usenet and flaming lamers. When I

first tried to contact them I thought that they weren't so good at

answering email, but it turned out their provider had just been

taken offline for illegal spamming. They relocated en masse,

and my mail had been lost in transit. So I posted a message

to one of their newsgroups, made sure it was correctly

labeled, politely worded, and not crossposted (a cardinal sin

anywhere on Usenet). A reply arrived within eight hours. Mad

Hatter was more than happy to talk, but not on the phone, not

in person, and not on conventional IRC. "It has a bit of a habit

of advertising my IP address," he said. He and six other Inner

Circle members set up their own IRC server, configured a

secret channel, and arranged a mutually convenient time for a

live interview. We met and talked for nine hours, in the bizarre

overlapping conversational style of IRC. They were frank and

open, friendly and articulate - and, like any new start-up,

flattered by the attention.

A 17-strong force, the Inner Circle has its own iconography

and its own ideals. Its members are warez gods. They

preach, police, advise, flame. Their commandments? Good

manners, good use of bandwidth, and good warez. Give unto

others as you would have them give unto you. When the Inner

Circle is not sourcing warez from secret sites, its members

are hunting and gathering from more conventional sources.

Clickety borrows fresh stuff from his clients. A few have

attended Microsoft Solution seminars. "Some of us are actual

beta testers, too," says Mad Hatter. "That's got to be scary for

the developers." One way or another, they help maintain the

steady flow of warez onto Usenet. From there, various

wannabes, lamers, and aspirants copy their work to countless

BBSes, FTP sites, and Web pages.

These are not pimply teenagers devoid of social life and

graces, little ferrets who talk in bIFF text and make napalm out

of soap and lightbulbs; they're not downloading porn or being

careful not to wake their parents or spelling "cool" as "kewl."

According to the interviews I conducted, not one member is

younger than 20; Clickety-Clack is the youngest at 23. Most

are 30-plus. Champion uploader Digital has been happily

married for 22 of his 46 years. Most are well-adjusted white

males with day jobs and thoroughly nuclear families. Founding

member Abraxas has three kids, one over 18. Mad Hatter

runs a small business from home. Technical guru TAG is a

computer animator. Irrelevant maintains commercial real

estate. They're spread all over the United States. A few are

concentrated around Orlando, Florida. Two or three others

are California-based. For obvious reasons, that's as precise

as they like to get.

The Inner Circle was born of a sense of outrage that their

beloved pirate-wares newsgroups were going to pot. Warez

had been around for more than a decade, but the growth of

the Internet was bringing clueless newbies onto the boards.

Warez needed a code of ethics and a group of leaders to set

some examples. The leaders would be the best crackers -

some of whom became the Inner Circle.

"We took over alt.binaries.pictures.leek in early '96," explains

Abraxas, "and then leaked the first Nashville [Windows 97]

beta. The groups were being overrun by clueless people.

They needed help. They were wasting Internet resources.

Perhaps if we could encourage responsible use of the

available bandwidth, the whole Usenet warez 'scene' might

last a while longer. Warez was around before we were, and

will be after, but we wanted to help people and preserve

resources using common sense."

As enforcers of the warez code, the Inner Circle can be swift

and sure. In April 1996, a pirate gang called Nomad,

convinced that posts to warez groups were being

suppressed, decided to get themselves some unsupervised

elbow room. They selected an antiwork newsgroup -

alt.binaries.slack, relatively empty and off the beaten track -

where software could be slipped past news providers who

had firewalled the usual warez forums. Within 24 hours, the

forum was flooded with the latest releases. The slackers

bestirred themselves from their apathy and fought back,

posting files that told the pirates politely to push off. The warez

kept coming. Then the Inner Circle waded in on the slackers'

side and castigated the invaders for their poor manners. The

pirates left meekly - though as a parting gift, one of them

posted Microsoft NT, Beta 3, all 48 Mbytes of it, in 5,734

parts. The slackers' newsfeed was clogged for days.

A slightly disturbing revelation came out of the slacker

invasion. "After the first attempted takeover, we discovered

just how scary search engines like Deja News and AltaVista

were," explains TAG. "You could dig up real email addresses

pretty easy on about 75 percent of people posting warez." A

worried TAG hacked into the code of Forte Agent, an industry

standard newsreader already cracked to bypass the

shareware cripples, and stripped away the X-newsreader

header, giving posters far greater anonymity. As a side effect,

the patch also reduced email spams by two-thirds. "The hack

went over so well with even nonwarez people that Forte

eventually incorporated it into Agent as a feature," TAG says

proudly, "although I don't think they'll be giving us credit."

By mid-'96, Mad Hatter decided that police work was getting

to be too much of a chore. The newsfeed was being clogged

by lamers, requesters, and partials posters with

"room-temperature IQs." Those genuinely into warez were

seeing less and less complete software uploaded; in its place

were hundreds of stray disks and clammy begging posts. In a

rare fit of pique, Mad Hatter took his revenge.

"If I continue to see the 'here's what I have' threads," he wrote,

"I will stop uploading here. I will not help and will laugh my ass

off that everyone is suffering. If for some reason you doubt that

I make a difference, it's your loss, as I personally have

uploaded 85 percent of all the $hit that's getting posted now

when it was zero day or still fresh. Keep fighting over stale $hit

- I like to watch; keep posting partials, and I'll stop upping my

100 to 300 Mbytes a week. In fact, I think I'll stop now."

And stop the Inner Circle did. "We became burnt out on

educating the masses," Mad Hatter says. Instead, a range of

guaranteed lamer-free encrypted newsgroups was created

for posting PGP-encoded warez, for Inner Circle-approved

members only. Those on the select interested-parties list are

given the codes to unlock the software, and anyone can apply

to join. Requirement: a reasonable knowledge of PGP.

"Hopefully this is a sign you won't be totally incompetent if you

choose to post," says TAG. At the last count, the IPL had 500

subscribers, happily trading warez under the protection of the

latest in antilamer technology.

-----------

New economy

-----------

Warez on Usenet are basically gifts - testimony to the power

and stature of the giver. Files are posted for all to download,

free. Just fire up your newsreader, point it at an appropriate

forum, and a list like a home-shopping catalog of the latest

software spills down your screen. There is no pressure, but if

you download and you like the vibe, you are expected to join

the community and contribute uploads whenever possible.

On the freewheeling IRC chat forums, warez are no longer

gifts - they're trade goods. The rewards are greater, but

you've got to work for them. The IRC channels are 24-hour

stock exchanges cum street markets: FreeWarez, Warez96,

Warez4Free, WarezSitez, WarezAppz, and WarezGamez.

There are private channels, hidden areas, and invite-only

piracy parties. And there are no free lunches - every piece of

software has to be paid for, in software. The more recent the

application, the higher its value. The ultimate bartering tools

are zero-day warez - software released by a commercial

house in the last 24 hours, cracked if necessary and

uploaded. The prizes for good zero-day warez vary; you may

get instant download status on a particular server, logins and

passwords for exclusive FTP sites, or admission to the ranks

of a powerful cartel like the Inner Circle.

"Zero-day sites are very élite stuff," explains paid-up élitist

TAG. "People can get access only if they can move a few

hundred Mbytes a day. Most are invite only. The average IRC

warez trader doesn't get that kind of access unless he puts a

lot of effort into it." Zero-day warez trading is a fraught

business; competition between groups often leads to

malpractice. "You get a lot of first releases with bad cracks,"

says TAG, "just so someone can say they released first. Then

two days later, you get a working crack. We get most of our

freshest stuff from private FTP and courier drop sites."

If your software collection is more mundane, you can trade

one piece directly for another. But with so many unpoliced

egos in one place, this can be risky. People will often welsh

on deals, allowing you to pass them a file and then

disappearing into the ether. Cunning traders will barter with

"trojans" - zipped-up files of gunk, realistic enough to carry out

half the transaction. In extreme cases, someone may feed you

a virus.

A step down from zero-day warez are drop sites, where fresh

cracks can be found for the cost of a download. Some drop

sites run on the trader's own machine; others piggyback on

government or corporate mainframes, shareware mirrors, and

university networks. Often they're only in existence for 24

hours, or on weekends when the sysops are at home.

Wherever you end up, you'll be struck by the extreme

politesse and measured courtesy, united by a common

language. "Greets m8. Have appz, gamez and crackz on

129.102.1.3. Looking for Pshop 4.0 beta. L8ter." "Have 1.5

gigs of warez on anonymous T1. Upload for leech access. /

me for more info. No lamers."

----------

Real money

----------

Back in Phil's world, they can't quite cope with the idea of this

ferocious brag-driven barter economy cloaked in courtesy.

The SPA and the BSA just don't believe it. "Considering the

amount of time they dedicate, they must be making a return to

justify it," says Phil.

Casual observers of the BSA's Web site may well be

convinced, if only because they're stunned by the money that's

involved - or seems to be. Fifteen point five billion dollars a

year! But those figures are based on the assumption that if

piracy were stopped, someone would be willing to pay for

every pirated copy in circulation.

"Billions of dollars?" scoffs East London BBS operator Time

Bandit. "I know guys who have thousands and thousands of

pounds worth of software, but the values are meaningless.

Win95 may cost, like, £75 in the shops, but in warez, it's

worthless. It's just another file that you might swap for another

program, which might cost four grand. How much it costs in

real money is meaningless."

How do you ram home sales figures and quarterly losses to a

bunch of teenagers who see warez trading as their passport

to acceptance on the scurrilous side of a brave new world?

How do you convince middle-aged men who see

incandescently expensive software as monopoly money in a

vast, global boardgame that what they're doing is "harmful"?

In the software industry's latest campaign, you scare them - or

try. The BSA's mandate used to be "not to capture pirates,

but to eradicate piracy." Now exemplary punishment is the big

thing.

To do that, the BSA and the SPA are willing to push the law to

its limits. Prosecuting clear offenders - warez-vending BBS

operators and FTP-site pirates, for instance - is one thing;

suing ISPs for carrying Web pages containing pirate links and

cracks is another. A typical case was against C2Net, a

Buffalo, New York-based ISP that the SPA sued for doing just

that. In what smacked of a token prosecution - or, in the words

of C2Net's president, Sameer Parekh, "legal terrorism" - the

action by Adobe, Claris, and Traveling Software, under the

aegis of the SPA, held the provider responsible as

"publishers" for the contents of its server, and for the activities

of individual account holders. The SPA eventually backed off

but threatens to revive the suit if C2Net and other ISPs don't

agree to monitor their users for copyright infringement. C2Net

says it will not give in to litigious "bullying."

And then there are straightforward busts. On January 12,

1996, Microsoft and Novell jointly announced a settlement

with Scott W. Morris, who was "doing business as the

Assassin's Guild BBS ... billed ... as the worldwide

headquarters for two large pirate groups, Pirates With

Attitude (PWA) and Razor 1911." According to the statement,

"marshals seized 13 computers, 11 modems, a satellite dish,

9 gigabytes of online data, and over 40 gigabytes of offline

data storage dating back to 1992.... Mr. Morris agrees to

assist Microsoft and Novell in their continuing BBS

investigations."

Phil, our undercover Internet detective, wasn't responsible for

that particular drama, but he's been integral to others. His

latest victory was in Zürich - "a landmark case against

individuals and organizations distributing unlicensed software

on the Internet," he calls it. A 27-year-old computer technician

who helpfully called himself "The Pirate" was running an FTP

site filled to the brim with warez, including US$60,000 worth

of unlicensed Novell software. Phil, impersonating a trader,

infiltrated the site (admittedly no great feat), collected

evidence, then handed it over to the Swiss police. He

accompanied them on the raid to ensure no evidence was

damaged. "He was one of a new breed who advertise on the

Internet," says Phil. "He made his files available via email

requests and telnet." Swiss police also raided the home of a

BBS called M-E-M-O, run by "The Shadow," a friend of The

Pirate. Unfortunately, The Shadow was on holiday with his

parents. The family returned two weeks later to find their front

door broken down; the son was arrested. If convicted, the

young pirates face up to three years in jail and possible

$80,000 fines.

The Pirate's mistake - aside from his suicidal choice of

nickname - was to plant himself geographically. Phil, a former

corporate network manager, was able to trace him through

his FTP site's IP address. Phil knows his networks; this

makes him the perfect undercover agent - and one of Novell

UK's most envied employees. "I play on the Net all day," he

says, "and get paid for it."

There's a bit more to it than that. Phil and his counterparts in

Asia and the US are deployed to infiltrate pirate groups; to

study IRC; to get under the skin of the lamers, the dabblers,

and the professionals; to chat, seduce, charm, and interact

with the denizens of this bizarre over-underworld. Phil talks to

traders in their own language, understands the tricks and

traps. After busting The Pirate, he says, "we were talking and

he was moaning about the sluggishness of his network. I

pointed out that, aside from using LANtastic, he was using a

75-ohm terminator on the back of his file server, slowing the

whole thing down."

Now that he's back from Zürich, Phil will be getting some new

toys: the spoils of war. In many jurisdictions, any hardware

deemed to be part of an illegal setup can be taken by

investigators and - if part of a civil prosecution - can be

worked in as part of the settlement. Once sucked dry of

evidence and incriminating data, the cannibalized machines

are moved to Bracknell and hooked up to the network.

But despite the resources at his disposal and his status as a

network ninja, Phil doesn't always get his man. "If there's a

person out there who has a decent level of technological

awareness of the ways he can be located, it's quite true to say

he could successfully hide himself, or use a system where it

would be impossible to track him. It's technically possible for

them to bounce their messages all around the world and have

us running around like blue-arsed flies." It's a reluctant

admission, but then Phil is one person pitted against

thousands.

Successful prosecutions aren't always that easy either. Take

David LaMacchia, an MIT engineering student who turned two

of the school's servers into drop sites and downloaded an

estimated $1 million worth of pirated software. LaMacchia

was arrested in 1995, only to have the case thrown out by a

judge who ruled that no "commercial motive" was involved.

Prosecutors tried charging him with wire fraud, but this was

ruled an unacceptable stretching of the law. LaMacchia

walked free. "Bringing Internet cases through the judicial

system is a nightmare," says Novell's Martin Smith. "Try

talking to a judge about 'dynamically allocated IP addresses.'

We don't have a chance."

Tell that to the former warez traders of America Online, which

had a meteoric history as a pirate mecca. For years,

instructions on how to crack AOL's security and obtain free

accounts were a Usenet staple. Online, "freewarez" chat

rooms were packed with traders, 24 hours a day. Megabytes

of warez were kept in permanent circulation.

Then came the crackdown of 1996, a dark period in warez

history. Goaded by software-industry watchdogs, AOL

introduced countermeasures to disinfect its system;

alt.binaries.warez was removed from the Internet newsfeed.

CATwatch automated sentinels were placed on AOL's warez

chat channels, logging off anyone who entered. "Free"

accounts were traced and nuked. Michael, the weight-lifting

trader and also an AOL veteran, says everyone thought that

"the FBI had infiltrated the warez groups, and we were all

going to get busted." On the cusp of the big time - a top pirate

outfit named Hybrid had a position open - Michael had been

hoping to prove himself by doing a CD rip of the soccer game

Euro 96. "I was halfway through removing the FMV and CD

audio. I reckon I could've got it down from 58 disks to 9. But

then everything went haywire."

Profit-driven crackers are actually the easiest to catch: they

have links to the real world, starting with the money trail from

credit cards. And the easiest prey of all are BBSes, with their

telltale telephone connections. In January, FBI agents led by

the bureau's San Francisco-based International Computer

Crime Squad raided homes and businesses in California and

half a dozen other states. They seized computers, hard

drives, and modems, though no arrests were made. Along

with Adobe, Autodesk, and other BSA stalwarts, the list of

software companies involved included Sega and Sony - a hint

that the targets included gold-disk dupers who counterfeit

mass-market videogames.

Mad Hatter was not impressed. "Wow, I'm in hiding," he

cracked the day after the raids. But "Cyber Strike" was, as

BSA vice president Bob Kruger said later in a statement,

"the most ambitious law enforcement action to date against

Internet piracy" - specifically, the first US case in which the

FBI, rather than local police, took the lead. And that can't help

but augment the BSA's number-one antipiracy tactic for 1997:

creating the "perception of threat." And even warez gods

don't necessarily want the FBI on their case.

But bluster aside, people like Mad Hatter are intrinsically -

and deliberately - much harder to catch. The most prestigious

pirate groups - Razor 1911, DOD, Pirates With Attitude, the

Inner Circle - are tightly knit clubs whose members have

known each other for years and call each other "good friends"

- though they rarely, if ever, meet. Joining is no easy task.

Positions become vacant only when members quit or are

busted, or a vote is taken to expand operations. Kudos and

reputation are everything. Unofficial homepages can be found

here and there, constructed by acolytes who celebrate the

groups' best releases and victories. These are often padded

out with cryptic biographies and obituaries for those busted

by the cops ("We feel for ya!"). Despite the boasting, and the

draping of their releases with corporate motifs - logos, front

ends, graphics, even signature tunes and Java applets -

crackers' true identities typically remain secret, even to one

another.

The anonymity, however, works both ways. Cloaked in his

own secret identity, Phil says he has managed to get deep

within several major groups in the past 18 months and is

skimming the surface of several others. He can convincingly

portray himself as a caring, sharing warez god. "You make

some good friends," he says with a smile. And, it seems, you

can end up pretty impressed. "Some of these people are

incredibly talented. The logic and programming behind their

setups are just amazing." Or maybe he's just bluffing?

------------------

Warez and whyfores

------------------

In Phil's world, warez dealers are thieves. In warez world, the

software companies are the criminals.

"Most products you buy from a store can be returned if you

are unsatisfied," reads the beautifully crafted Warez FAQ, on

the Inner Circle's Web site. "Software cannot." The Inner

Circle thus can claim to have a practical motivation -

providing "a place to find something you might want to

evaluate before purchasing." All right. "I personally have

bought progs that I demo'd first from warez," declares

Clickety. "I have more warez than I could ever hope to install

on my poor drives. Tested a lot of crap also that I was glad I

didn't pay for - deleted it right off the bat. I have recommended

software to clients based upon using a pirate version at

home."

"Software developers have families, and should be able to

support them," reads the Warez FAQ. "We do advocate

buying your own software if you really like it and use it

heavily," adds Mad Hatter.

As Phil and his friends are well aware, the line between piracy

and ownership is very blurred. For example, it's

commonplace for 3-D animators and modelers to use

pirated, cracked, or at least unlicensed copies of their office

software at home, for overtime or experimentation. In some

minds, it's even a "necessary evil," a slightly arcane

marketing strategy, a rather reckless approach to branding -

look at Netscape. Indeed, many software executives privately

acknowledge that piracy - especially the attention it brings to

new releases - can be a valuable way to develop markets.

Novell's Martin Smith might disagree. He spends "99.9

percent" of his time fighting piracy, and he worries that the

next generation of browsers will seamlessly marry the Web

with Usenet. "The newsgroups will be a lot more accessible,"

he says, with something close to resignation, "which is going

to make the whole thing a lot more widespread and give

these guys a much bigger market. There's not much we can

do, other than encourage ISPs not to take them."

The difficulty is that, once it's up, a Usenet post can generally

be canceled only by the author or a sysop from the post's

point of origin, "server zero." Even if a cancel is issued, it

takes time to ripple across the network. A warez regular

would be able to grab the file before it was vaped. Some

servers refuse on principle to honor cancels. "Even the most

diehard warez hater in news.admin.hierarchy would defend

your right to be safe from cancels," claims TAG. Many

commercial ISPs have taken the industry's encouragement

and dropped the warez groups, but lots of free servers are

carrying on. And things aren't helped by the lack of a clear

legal framework. Imagine the scenario: a program that

belongs to a UScompany is uploaded via a router in

Canada to a server in South Africa, where it is downloaded

by a Norwegian operating out of Germany using a US-based

anonymous remailer, then burnt onto a CD in the UK and sold

in Bulgaria. "How would you prosecute that mess?" asks

Smith. "It's a jurisdictional nightmare."

And the profit pirates are getting more creative. Smith cites

the Web page of one warez guru, offering a premium-line

phone number: for $3 a minute, you can listen to details about

the best warez FTP sites, their addresses, and their login

passwords. "Updated every three days for your convenience,"

it declares. It also makes provisions for those dialing from

outside the US. The selling of information that leads to illegal

use of information - a difficult case to prosecute.

"Our strategy is to bring a critical mass of prosecutions," says

Smith. "We'll take out some people who're downloading this

material - the gnats - and then we'll take out some of the

larger, more organized guys. The people who are packaging

it up and zipping it onto CD-ROMs." Which might work in a

world where software was always bought on CD-ROM. But in

pushing ever deeper into electronic commerce, where more

and more real commercial software (browsers, little applets)

is being given out for free, where the Internet is the ultimate

distribution network, this looks a little ropey. Friction-free

markets and friction-free piracy run in tandem. The Inner

Circle already has its PGP-encoded giveaway mall in place.

Smith knows all this. There's just not much he can do about it.

"All it needs is one server in one country where there are no

laws to counter copyright theft, and there are plenty who will -

the likes of Libya, Bulgaria, and Iran. One country with a

decent enough telephone infrastructure is enough to undo a

hundred busts in the West." Even if laws are constitutional or

enforced, larger biases come into play. "Try asking a Saudi

policeman to arrest a Saudi software pirate on behalf of an

American company. Forget it."

----------------

Dingle my dongle

----------------

The alternative to policing is burglar-proofing: making things

harder to crack. In principle, you might think that the

gazillion-dollar software industry would be able to produce

uncrackable software. In practice, it can't, although it certainly

keeps trying.

Take the dongle, for example. It is the summit of copy

protection, an explicit melding of software and hardware.

Without the right hardware key - the dongle - plugged into the

machine's parallel port, the software won't run. And without the

right software, the dongle is a mindless doorstop. Calls to the

dongle are woven into the code at the lowest level. "The

program may call the dongle every 150 mouseclicks, or every

time you print, or every time you select flesh tones as your

desktop color scheme," says one dongle expert. If the

response to the call is false or not forthcoming, the program

shuts down. All communications between the two are

encrypted by uncrackable algorithms. Internal security fuses

ensure that any attempt to hack the dongle mechanically will

cause it to self-destruct. "Nothing short of an electron

microscope," says the expert, "could extract the algorithm

from that mess."

The biggest player in the dongle market is Rainbow

Technologies, whose Sentinel hardware keys are used by 55

percent of all protected software. There are 8 million Sentinel

keys attached to 8 million printer ports the world over. The

company calls it "the world's most effective way to stop

piracy" - a clarion call to crackers if ever there was.

The logical approach to cracking a hardware key is to create

a "pseudodongle" - a chunk of code that sits in memory,

giving the correct answers to any query. To do this, a cracker

would have to monitor and trap traffic to-ing and fro-ing

across the parallel port, then use this information to build an

infallible query/ table. Unfortunately, if the query is, say, six

characters long, it can have more than 280 trillion responses

(281,474,976,710,700 to be exact). With the speed of

modern machines, this would take approximately 44,627

years to collate. With the SentinelSuperPro dongle ("the most

secure and flexible protection available") the query length can

be 56 characters - requiring a mere 10 125 years (in theory)

for a complete table. However, the dongle in

SentinelSuperPro for Autodesk 3D Studio MAX was cracked

in just under seven days of its retail release - substantially less

than the 44 millennia emblazoned on the sales brochures.

Other expensive high-end applications that use Sentinel -

including NewTek's LightWave 5 and Microsoft's SoftImage -

have ended up the same way: cracked, repackaged, and

redistributed to every corner of the Internet within weeks of

their release. How? Instead of attempting to simulate the

dongle, expert crackers simply remove its tendrils from the

program code, unraveling the relationship skein by skein,

function by function, call by call, until the application ceases to

need the dongle to function. Then it's ready for anyone and

everyone to use - or, more likely, gawk at.

Nobody says this is easy. There may be only three or four

crackers in the world who could manage such an opus. But

with the Internet to transmit the result, only one needs to

succeed.

With the latest wave of dongles, warez world looked to Russia

to get the job done - and a shadowy group called DOD "won"

the contract. The self-styled "Warez Bearz of Russia and

Beyond," DOD appears to have arms throughout Europe,

Asia, and the US. It undid Microsoft SoftImage's dongle

protection in two weeks, which wasn't easy. The crew

riotously celebrated in their "NFO" file: "Totally awesome

work of glorious DOD cracker - Replicator after five other

crackers gave up! We decided not a do a crack patch 'coz it

will take too much time to code it ... you ask why? 'Coz there

are only 72 (!!!) EXEs patched. All options now work 100%!"

NFO files do more than brag or supply installation

instructions; they testify that the ware is a bona fide release,

guaranteed to work. And this is more than just posturing; a

group's reputation is paramount. Each release is

painstakingly beta-tested. These are their products now, their

labors of love. Nobody wants to find a "bad crack" in his

hands after a seven-hour download. Nobody wants to be

accused of being "unprofessional." Nobody wants the

ignominy of anything like the bad crack for Autodesk's 3D

Studio that made the rounds in 1992. For all intents and

purposes it ran correctly, all features seemed 100 percent

functional. Except that the dedongled program slowly and

subtly corrupted any 3-D model built with it. After a few hours

of use, a mesh would become a crumpled mass of broken

triangles, irrevocably damaged. Cleverly, Autodesk had used

the dongle to create a dynamic vector table within the

program. Without the table, the program struggled to create

mathematically accurate geometry - and eventually failed.

Many a dodgy CAD house saw its cost-cutting measures end

in ruin. Autodesk support forums and newsgroups were

flooded with strangely unregistered users moaning about the

"bug in their version of 3D Studio." A rectified "100 percent

cracked" version appeared soon after, but the damage was

done. The Myth of the Bad Crack was born, and the pirate

groups' reputations tarnished.

But the pirates bounced back. They always do. And there's no

reason to think that there's any way to stop them. Software

security people are at an intrinsic disadvantage. Compare

their job to that of securing something in the real world that's

valuable and under threat - a bank, say. Typically, only one set

of armed robbers will hold up a bank at a time, and they'll get

only one crack at it. Imagine an army of robbers, all in different

parts of the world, all attacking the same bank at the same

time. And in the comfort of their own homes. Not just once, but

over and over again. Imagine that each set of robbers is

competing against every other, racing to be first in. Imagine,

too, that some of the robbers are so technically adept that

they could have built the alarms, the safe, and even the jewels

themselves. And that they have cracked more than 30 banks

with the same protection system. And that they're learning

from all their failures, because they're never caught. No

security could realistically resist such an onslaught. It may be

that the only way to avoid having your software cracked is to

put no protection whatsoever on it. No challenge, no crack.

Popularity only feeds the frenzy. Doom is a good example. In

1993, id Software distributed the original shareware version

of its nasty-guns-in-nasty-dungeons masterpiece on bulletin

boards, CompuServe, and a then-little-known system called

the Internet. Downloaded by more than 6 million people

worldwide, Doom was a trailblazer in the world of modem

marketing. The shareware gave you a third of the game: if you

liked it, you had to buy the rest on disks. Millions did.

Doom and its makers became a dream target. Weeks before

Doom II's release, the sequel was available on the Internet -

not as shareware, but warez. And not just as a teaser, but the

whole damn thing. "Yeah, that was leaked," says Mike Wilson,

id's then-vice president of marketing, now CEO at Ion Storm.

"Can't tell you how much that hurt." The leaked copy was

rapidly traced - rumors abounded that the version was a

review copy fingerprinted to a British PC games magazine -

but too late. It was already on Usenet, doing the rounds on

IRC, filling up FTP sites. The pirates were in ecstasy and id

was left with recoding the final retail release, to ensure future

patches and upgrades would not work on the pirated version.

Then they shut the stable door. No more external beta testing;

no more prelaunch reviews. "We assured ourselves it would

never happen again," says Wilson. "No copy of our games

would leave the building."

Nice try. Quake, Doom's much-anticipated follow-up, turned

up on an FTP server in Finland three days before the

shareware come-on was due to be released. The pirate

version was a final beta of the full game - complete with eerily

empty unfinished levels and bare, unartworked walls. Within

hours, it had been funneled to sites all over the globe. IRC

was swamped with traders and couriers desperate to

download.

"Somebody actually broke into our then poorly secured

network and started to download it right before our eyes,"

Wilson recalls. "We managed to stop the transfer before he

got all of it. We traced the call, got his name and address. He

was pretty scared, but, of course, it was some kid. We didn't

pursue that one. It hurt, but not enough to put some little kid in

jail."

When the legitimate Quake hit the stores last year, it was

initially in the form of an encrypted CD, which let you play a

shareware version for free but would only unlock the rest on

receipt of a password, available for purchase by phone. The

encryption scheme, an industry standard called TestDrive,

was eventually cracked by a lone European pirate called

Agony. And id's crown jewel was now available, courtesy a

29K program. "In order to unlock the full version, you are

supposed to call 1-800-IDGAMES," Agony gloated in a

posting. "Hahahahahah."

"We knew it was going to be hacked," says Wilson. "We of all

people knew. But we thought it was safe enough, certainly

safer than Doom II." And, truth to tell, it didn't matter too much.

The gap between the game's release and the warez version

becoming widespread was enough for id to sell the copies

they expected. "Copy-protection schemes are just speed

bumps," laments Wilson.

Nobody really knows how much actual damage cracking does

to the software companies. But as the industry rolls

apprehensively toward the uncertain future of an ever-more

frictionless electronic marketplace, almost everyone thinks

piracy will increase. "The level of activity out there is

overwhelming. We know that we have to take action to take

control of it. We will continue to bring a critical mass of

prosecutions," says Novell UK's Smith. He doesn't sound all

that convinced.

Somewhere back on the US East Coast, Mad Hatter has a

final swig of ginger ale and settles down to bed with his wife,

White Rabbit. She thinks his obsession is a wasted resource,

but didn't complain when he installed the latest version of

Quicken on her computer - a cracked copy, of course. "We

are all family men, married with children, day jobs, dedicated

accounts, and multiple phone lines," Mad Hatter says. "Our

kids have been looking over our shoulders for years. They will

be the next couriers, the next warez gods."

__________________

David McCandless ([email protected]), a

London-based writer, musician, and film editor, is still bitter

about being dethroned as UK Doom champion.

/ next up :

-*-*-*-*-*-* #$%# OFF, TDT *-*-*-*-*-*-

In this textfile, I will rag on TDT and the whole bunch of lamers

associated with them. Also, I will explain WHY I'm doing this. The

reason is the recent release of Might & Magic IV by FairLight, TDT

and of course RAZOR. First off, the Razor version was the only one

that has been put out COMPLETELY CRACKED AND WORKING unlike the

Flt and TDT versions. Now, two days later TDT puts out a "crackfix"

which is supposed to be 100% and that "you can use on the Razor and

FLT versions". Of course I was very suspicious about TDT's late

fix and so I downloaded this $hit and looked at it since they

claimed that there was more than ONE doc check in the game. Here's

what I found....

ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿

³TDT - how stupid they REALLY are....³

ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

OK, let's start. I will explain a _little_ of tech background to

you so that you're able to understand what I'm talking about.

The actual protection routine in Might & Magic IV is located in

a file called XEEN.DAT. This file is not a data file, but a renamed

EXE file. Also, New World Computing used PKLite to compress it and

make it harder to change stuff in it, however, we all know how to

get rid of PKlite, don't we ?

OK, well, after I got rid of PKLite I ran a filecompare between my

version and the one TDT put out. Here's the result:

Comparing files XEEN.DAT and MYXEEN.DAT

0001DD2A: 8E 38 <ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿

00026C9D: 90 9A <ÄÄÄÄ¿ ³

00026C9E: 90 00 <ÄÄÄÄ´ ³

00026C9F: 90 00 <ÄÄÄÄ´ ³

00026CA0: 90 CC <ÄÄÄÄ´ this is the only

00026CA1: 90 15 <ÄÄÄÄ´ byte required to

³ crack the game.

³

these are the bytes TDT

changed to "crack" the game.

Now, here's a litte explanantion of the bytes and what they mean.

If you don't know alot of assembly, don't worry if you don't

understand it. Actually the whole point of all this is that the

TDT version IS NOT WORKING ! Hahaha... Yes, you got me right.

TDT #&#036;%# UP THEIR CRACK, if you try to bypass the protection,

THE GAME WON'T LET YOU CONTINUE PLAYING.

Let me just explain what I did to crack the game:

The first byte you see at 1DD2A is an offset for a JMP instruction.

The original value in an uncracked version of MMIV is 8E and to

crack the game I changed it to 38. The reason is that the JMP

originally leads to the protection routine that asks you to enter

a certain word from a certain page in the manual. What I did is

to bypass the protection check in a way that the routine assumes

that you've already entered the correct word. That's why in my

version the protection doesn't even show up anymore. Also, that

way I don't have to worry HOW MANY protection checks there are in

the game. No matter how many times the protection routine is called,

it will ALWAYS return the correct result and let you go on playing.

Now, in the TDT version SOMEONE thought he has to be a REAL smartass

#$%#. Here is what the dumbass did:

Translated to assembly, the five bytes starting at 26C9D will come

out as a FAR call instruction

CALL 15CC:0000

This CALL will lead to the protection and ask you for a word

from the manual.

TDT's lame-o cracker changed this CALL-instruction to something

else:

NOP

NOP

NOP

NOP

NOP

Well, what the dick was trying to do is to bypass the protection

simply by not even CALLING the protection routine. So, what's

wrong you may ask, if the protection is not even called, what is

Onyx moaning about !? Well, let me explain.

First of all there might be more than ONE call to the protection in

the game. The way I cracked it, the protection may be called 100reds

of times and each time it will come out fine, but in the TDT version

you can't be sure that there's not another CALL to the protection

somewhere else in the game. So, how do you fuckers in TDT even DARE

to tell people that "there's more than ONE check in the game", eh ?

DON'T YOU LAMERS UNDERSTAND THAT EVEN IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE

CHECK, YOUR GODDAMN VERSION WILL NOT WORK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES

BECAUSE YOU ONLY REMOVED *ONE* OF THEM ? #&#036;%# you lamers, you should

go back to cracking school and LEARN how to do things correctly.

ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿

³TDT - my grandma can do better cracks ³

ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

Now here's what's even WORSE about TDT's crack:

Due to the fact that the file XEEN.DAT is an EXE file, it contains

lots of addresses that have to be relocated when the file is loaded

to memory. This is refered to as the relocation table. I will not

go into a too much detailed explanation of the EXE file structure

here, but it all comes down to the fact that Sir Platinum doesn't

seem to know a $hit about DOS and EXE files.

Each entry in the relocation table points to an instruction of

the program that needs to be altered to make the program work.

Something called a SEGMENT-OFFSET has to be added to some instructions

to make them work correctly. In this case, the CALL instruction that

TDT changed needed to be relocated. To make it a little bit more

understandable for you, here's an example:

un-relocated instruction: bytes in memory:

CALL 15CC:0000 9A 00 00 CC 15

Now, let's assume the program has been loaded to segment offset 1234

the whole thing would look like this AFTER the relocation:

relocated instruction: bytes in memory:

CALL 2800:0000 9A 00 00 00 28

The segment offset of 1234 has been ADDED to the original offset

of 15CC. The result is 2800. This is how it SHOULD look like.

Now how did TDT #&#036;%# up ? Here's how....

Since DOS does an automatic relocation of all entries in the

relocation table, it will not check if the relocation it just made

was VALID. To cut a long explanation short, here's what it looks

like with the TDT version:

^^^

un-relocated instruction(s): bytes in memory:

NOP 90

NOP 90

NOP 90

NOP 90

NOP 90

After the relocation process....

relocated instruction(s): bytes in memory:

NOP 90

NOP 90

NOP 90

LES SP,[bP+SI+0509] C4 A2 ....

The offset 1234 has been added to the 9090 bytes that represtented

the NOP instructions.

Due to the fact that Sir Platinum changed the original JMP

instruction to NOP instructions, the relocation will create

a new, UNPREDICTABLE instruction instead of the NOPs. As a

result THE GAME MIGHT EVEN CRASH ! YES, YOU GOT IT RIGHT, THE

WAY TDT CRACKED THIS MIGHT CRASH THE GAME ! #&#036;%# you kids...

You apparently don't know a flying #&#036;%# about what you're doing.

Don't you fuckers know that according to what is added to your

NOP instuctions the actual CODE changes every time ? The instruc-

tions created might be total NONSENSE and lock up the game.

Goddamnit.... you lamers are so fucken stupid, you shouldn't be

allowed to touch games like Might & Magic IV since all you do is

to #&#036;%# THEM UP.

OK, Sir Lametinum, here's what you COULD have done even tho it

STILL wouldn't get rid of ALL the doc checks in the game, just

this particular one:

9A 00 00 CC 15 CALL 15CC:0000

could have been changed to

90 NOP

EB 02 JMP IP+02 <Ä¿jumps OVER the relocation

CC 15 XXXX ³offset.

.. ..<ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

. .

Obviously you're not a proffessional cracker, just a little dumb-o

wannbe that still has alot to learn to play in the MAJOR LEAGUE

together with the BIG BOYS....

Also, to all of you out there, take this as a WARNING and think twice

before you decide to download a TDT release in the future. Who knows,

the "change" they make to a program might accidently format your hard

drive....

GO FOR QUALITY - GO FOR RAZOR RELEASES ! WE KNOW OUR BUSINESS !

- ONYX [RAZOR 1911]

10/04/92

enjoy

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