cover image for post ' – zaas's Old_KeygenMe_2010' – zaas's Old_KeygenMe_2010

You can find the cracke here. It has a rating of “2 – Needs a little brain (or luck)”.

An Exceptional Path

I used IDA Pro to solve this crackme. First I searched for the good boy message by looking at the strings, see Figure . There is one reference to the good boy message “Well done!”, see Figure .

A simple check of the stack variable [ebp-0B0h], which I renamed to code_valid, decides whether we failed (code_valid is False), or succeeded (name_valid is True):

.text:00401766                 cmp     dword ptr [ebp+name_valid], 0 

Two paths lead up to the check. The left path in Figure ends with the following lines:

.text:00401726                 mov     eax, [ebp+var_44]
.text:00401729                 xor     edx, edx
.text:0040172B                 div     [ebp+var_28]
.text:0040172E                 mov     [ebp+var_A4], eax
.text:00401734                 mov     [ebp+name_valid], 0
.text:0040173E                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0FFFFFFFFh
.text:00401745                 jmp     short loc_401766 ; check_flag should NOT be zero

In Line .text:00401734 the variable name_valid is set to False, so this path can’t be it. The right path looks better:

.text:0040174D loc_40174D:                             ; DATA XREF: .rdata:stru_405118o
.text:0040174D                 mov     esp, [ebp+ms_exc.old_esp] ; Exception handler 0 for function 401310
.text:00401750                 mov     eax, [ebp+name_valid]
.text:00401756                 and     eax, 1
.text:00401759                 mov     [ebp+name_valid], eax
.text:0040175F                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0FFFFFFFFh

Line .text:00401759 sets name_valid to True. The problem with this block is that seemingly no path, i.e., arrows in IDA’s graph view, lead to to those lines. That is because it is an “Exception handler 0 for function 401310” as IDA Pro recognized and commented in line .text:0040174D. The exception handler takes care of all exception thrown inside the first level try block inside the routine 401310. We find the start of this try block a couple of lines backwards from the good boy check:

.text:00401686                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0 ; start of try block

The try block ends here:

.text:0040173E                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0FFFFFFFFh

To get to the good boy message, we need to trigger an exception inside the try block.

Valid Names

Let’s see what happens with the name and code after we hit OK. Going back a few block inside the subroutine 401310 we find the characteristic lines that read the values of the two input boxes::

.text:00401639                 push    32h             ; cchMax
.text:0040163B                 lea     edx, [ebp+name]
.text:00401641                 push    edx             ; lpString
.text:00401642                 push    1               ; nIDDlgItem
.text:00401644                 mov     eax, [ebp+hWndParent]
.text:00401647                 push    eax             ; hDlg
.text:00401648                 call    ds:GetDlgItemTextA
.text:0040164E                 mov     [ebp+name_length], eax ; name_length
.text:00401654                 push    32h             ; cchMax
.text:00401656                 lea     ecx, [ebp+code]
.text:0040165C                 push    ecx             ; lpString
.text:0040165D                 push    2               ; nIDDlgItem
.text:0040165F                 mov     edx, [ebp+hWndParent]
.text:00401662                 push    edx             ; hDlg
.text:00401663                 call    ds:GetDlgItemTextA
.text:00401669                 mov     [ebp+code_length], eax ; code_length
.text:0040166F                 cmp     [ebp+name_length], 0
.text:00401676                 jz      short loc_401681
.text:00401678                 cmp     [ebp+code_length], 0

This snippet fetches the content of both input boxes and checks if they contain text. If they do, the code enters the try-block (so any exception thrown from now on gives us the good boy message)::

.text:00401686 ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
.text:00401686 loc_401686:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+36Fj
.text:00401686                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0 ; start of try block
.text:0040168D                 cmp     [ebp+name_length], 4
.text:00401694                 jb      short loc_40169F
.text:00401696                 cmp     [ebp+code_length], 4
.text:0040169D                 jnb     short loc_4016B1
.text:0040169F loc_40169F:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+384j
.text:0040169F                 xor     eax, eax
.text:004016A1                 cmp     [ebp+name_valid], 0
.text:004016A8                 setz    al
.text:004016AB                 mov     [ebp+name_valid], eax ; check_flag = 0
.text:004016B1 loc_4016B1:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+38Dj
.text:004016B1                 mov     [ebp+i], 0
.text:004016BB                 jmp     short loc_4016CC
.text:004016BD ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The code checks if the length of the name field is at least 4 characters. If not, it sets the variable [ebp+name_valid] to False. Otherwise, the variable stays at True as set in line 40162F::

.text:0040162F                 mov     [ebp+name_valid], 1

If the name has at least four characters we enter a loop::

.text:004016B1 loc_4016B1:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+38Dj
.text:004016B1                 mov     [ebp+i], 0
.text:004016BB                 jmp     short loc_4016CC
.text:004016BD ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
.text:004016BD loc_4016BD:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+3EEj
.text:004016BD                 mov     ecx, [ebp+i]    ; increment
.text:004016C3                 add     ecx, 1
.text:004016C6                 mov     [ebp+i], ecx
.text:004016CC loc_4016CC:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+3ABj
.text:004016CC                 mov     edx, [ebp+i]
.text:004016D2                 cmp     edx, [ebp+name_length]
.text:004016D8                 jnb     short loc_401700
.text:004016DA                 mov     eax, [ebp+i]
.text:004016E0                 mov     cl, [ebp+eax+name] ; name[i]
.text:004016E7                 push    ecx
.text:004016E8                 call    sub_4019A0
.text:004016ED                 add     esp, 4
.text:004016F0                 mov     edx, [ebp+name_valid]
.text:004016F6                 and     edx, eax
.text:004016F8                 mov     [ebp+name_valid], edx ; if not sub_4019A0(c): check_flag = False
.text:004016FE                 jmp     short loc_4016BD ; increment

This code snippet iterates over all characters in name. It calls a routine sub_4019A0 for all characters in name, and updates the name_valid flag based on the return value of sub_4019A0:

name_valid = name_valid && sub_4019A0(name[i])

So sub_4019A0 is most likely a check for valid characters. If one of the characters in name is invalid, the flag name_valid becomes False (and stays False). The routine sub_4019A0 is::

.text:004019A0 sub_4019A0      proc near               ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+3D8p
.text:004019A0 character       = byte ptr  4
.text:004019A0 c = al
.text:004019A0                 mov     c, [esp+character]
.text:004019A4                 cmp     c, '/'
.text:004019A6                 jle     short no_numbers ; jump if below numbers
.text:004019A8                 cmp     c, ':'
.text:004019AA                 jl      short loc_4019BC ; jump if number
.text:004019AC no_numbers:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_4019A0+6j
.text:004019AC                 cmp     c, 'A'
.text:004019AE                 jl      short loc_4019B4 ; jump if not letter
.text:004019B0                 cmp     c, 'Z'
.text:004019B2                 jle     short loc_4019BC ; jump if capital letter
.text:004019B4 loc_4019B4:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_4019A0+Ej
.text:004019B4                 cmp     c, 'a'
.text:004019B6                 jl      short loc_4019C2 ; jump if special
.text:004019B8                 cmp     c, 'z'
.text:004019BA                 jg      short loc_4019C2 ; jump if lower case letter
.text:004019BC loc_4019BC:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_4019A0+Aj
.text:004019BC                                         ; sub_4019A0+12j
.text:004019BC                 mov     eax, 1          ; return True
.text:004019C1                 retn
.text:004019C2 ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
.text:004019C2 loc_4019C2:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_4019A0+16j
.text:004019C2                                         ; sub_4019A0+1Aj
.text:004019C2                 xor     eax, eax        ; return False
.text:004019C4                 retn
.text:004019C4 sub_4019A0      endp

The routine checks if the character is one of the following:

  • a digit
  • an uppercase letter
  • a lowercase letter

In other words, this is the C function isalnum. After checking all characters in name we get to::

.text:00401700                 cmp     [ebp+name_valid], 0
.text:00401707                 jz      short loc_401726 ; if name invalid -> failed

If the name has at least four characters, and all characters of the name are alpha numeric, then the flag name_valid is still True and we continue, otherwise we jump to loc_401726 and the bad boy message is shown.

The Key Validation

If the name is valid, the following lines are executed::

.text:00401709                 lea     eax, [ebp+code]
.text:0040170F                 push    eax
.text:00401710                 lea     ecx, [ebp+name]
.text:00401716                 push    ecx
.text:00401717                 lea     edx, [ebp+var_28]
.text:0040171A                 push    edx
.text:0040171B                 call    sub_401960      ; ecx = code
.text:00401720                 add     esp, 0Ch
.text:00401723                 mov     [ebp+var_44], eax

They boil down to:

var_44 = sub_401960(var_28, name, code)

The routine sub_401960 calculates a value based on the name and code. The first argument of the function var_28 was initialized to 0 before and will probably hold a second return value of sub_401960 (besides the one in ):

.text:00401353                 mov     [ebp+var_28], 0

So let’s have a look at sub_401960::

.text:00401960 sub_401960      proc near               ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+40Bp
.text:00401960 result          = dword ptr  4
.text:00401960 name            = dword ptr  8
.text:00401960 code            = dword ptr  0Ch
.text:00401960                 mov     ecx, [esp+code]
.text:00401964                 mov     edx, [esp+result] ; starts at 0
.text:00401968                 push    ebx
.text:00401969                 push    ebp
.text:0040196A                 push    esi
.text:0040196B                 mov     esi, [esp+0Ch+name] ; esi = name
.text:0040196F                 push    edi
.text:00401970                 xor     eax, eax        ; sum=0
.text:00401972                 sub     esi, ecx
.text:00401974                 mov     edi, 4          ; repeat four times
.text:00401979 loc_401979:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401960+2Cj
.text:00401979                 movsx   ebx, byte ptr [esi+ecx] ; name[i]
.text:0040197D                 mov     ebp, [edx]      ; result
.text:0040197F                 add     eax, ebx        ; sum = sum + name[i]
.text:00401981                 movsx   ebx, byte ptr [ecx] ; code[i]
.text:00401984                 add     ebx, eax        ; ebx = sum + code[i]
.text:00401986                 add     ebp, ebx        ; result = result + ebx
.text:00401988                 inc     ecx
.text:00401989                 dec     edi
.text:0040198A                 mov     [edx], ebp
.text:0040198C                 jnz     short loc_401979 ; name[i]
.text:0040198E                 mov     ecx, added_to_weighted_sum
.text:00401994                 mov     esi, ebp
.text:00401996                 add     esi, ecx        ; add constant
.text:00401998                 pop     edi
.text:00401999                 mov     [edx], esi
.text:0040199B                 pop     esi
.text:0040199C                 pop     ebp
.text:0040199D                 pop     ebx
.text:0040199E                 retn
.text:0040199E sub_401960      endp

The code boils down to the following pseudocode:

FUNCTION sub_401960(int* result, char* name, char* code)
    rv = 0
    FOR i = 0 TO 3
        rv += name[i]
        result += rv + code[i]
    result += added_to_weighted_sum
    RETURN rv

Let ni, ci be the ith character of the name and code respectively, and let C be the constant added_to_weighted_sum, then the above code calculates:

$$ \begin{aligned} result &= \left(\sum_{i=0}^3 c_i \right) + 4 n_3 + 3 n_2 + 2 n_1 + n_0 + C \\ rv &= \sum_{i=0}^3 n_i \end{aligned} $$

The return value of sub_401960 is stored in [ebp+rv].

.text:0040171B                 call    sub_401960      ; ecx = code
.text:00401720                 add     esp, 0Ch
.text:00401723                 mov     [ebp+rv], eax

Next follow the last lines of our try block::

.text:00401726 loc_401726:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_401310+3F7j
.text:00401726                 mov     eax, [ebp+rv]
.text:00401729                 xor     edx, edx
.text:0040172B                 div     [ebp+var_28]
.text:0040172E                 mov     [ebp+var_A4], eax
.text:00401734                 mov     [ebp+code_valid], 0
.text:0040173E                 mov     [ebp+ms_exc.registration.TryLevel], 0FFFFFFFFh

Finally we’ve got an instruction that can throw an exception (the division by zero exception):

.text:0040172B                 div     [ebp+var_28]

The div statement divides what is in edx:eax by var_28. edx is set to zero, and eax holds the return value of sub_401960. We don’t care about these values, because a division by zero exception only occurs when the divisor is zero, regardless of the dividend. The divisor var_28 was the first argument passed to sub_401960, i.e., the result of the routine sub_401960. If a name/code pair leads to result being 0, an exception is thrown and we solved the crackme. With the mathematical notation introduced before this means:

$$ result = \left(\sum_{i=0}^3 c_i \right) + 4 n_3 + 3 n_2 + 2 n_1 + n_0 + C \stackrel{!}{=} 0 $$

What is the value of C? If you check the value of added_to_weighted_sum with a debugger it is 0 as set in this line::

.data:00408570 added_to_weighted_sum dd 0              ; DATA XREF: .text:0040112Ar

So how can we get the variable result to become zero? The values of n to n3 are alpha numeric ASCII codes and therefore greater than 0. The values of ci are the ASCII codes of the code and also positive. So with C being zero there is no way to get the sum in result to zero. We need to find a way to change C aka added_to_weighted_sum.

A Secret Key Combination

To see how we can change added_to_weighted_sum let’s check the references to this variable. Outside of sub_401960 the only other references are inside the following code snippet:

.text:00401102                 cmp     pressed_shift_3_before, 0
.text:00401109                 jnz     short loc_40113C
.text:0040110B                 cmp     dword ptr [ebp+pressed_key], '3' ; 3 pressed
.text:0040110F                 jnz     short loc_40113C
.text:00401111                 push    10h
.text:00401113                 call    ds:GetKeyState
.text:00401119                 movsx   eax, ax
.text:0040111C                 test    eax, eax
.text:0040111E                 jge     short loc_40113C
.text:00401120                 mov     pressed_shift_3_before, 1
.text:0040112A                 mov     ecx, added_to_weighted_sum
.text:00401130                 sub     ecx, 586h
.text:00401136                 mov     added_to_weighted_sum, ecx

The whole snippet is inside the callback that registers key presses. I renamed some variables to make clearer what the snippet does. It boils down to this:

IF NOT pressed_shift_3_before THEN
    IF pressed_key == '3' THEN 
        key_state = GetKeyState()
        IF key_state != 0 THEN
            pressed_shift_3_before = True
            added_to_weighted_sum = -0x586
        END IF
    END IF

This means that the first time we press key 3 together with Shift (which will give a non zero KeyState), the value added_to_weighted_sum is set to -586h. On an US keyboard layout this means our code needs to contain the # character. We can enter this character at any point before hitting OK, we can also enter it more than once. As long as there is the letter # somewhere in our code, the constant added_to_weighted_sum, i.e., C, becomes -0x586h.

The Keygenerator

We know two things about our code now. First of, it needs to contain Shift+3 (the hash character on US keyboards, the star * on Swiss keyboards and the § on German keyboards). Secondly, the following equation must hold:

$$ \left(\sum_{i=0}^3 c_i\right) + 4 n_3 + 3 n_2 + 2 n_1 + n_0 + C \stackrel{!}{=} 0 $$

So with C =  − 586h we have:

$$ \left(\sum_{i=0}^3 c_i\right) \stackrel{!}{=} 586h - 4 n_3 - 3 n_2 - 2 n_1 - n_0 $$

This condition can be met by many different codes for each name. Here is a simple keygenerator that picks four characters that satisfy the sum, then adds the # character to trigger the code to set the added_to_weighted_sum alias C value::

import string
import argparse

def keygen(name):
    code_sum = 0x586
    for i in range(4):
        code_sum -= (4-i)*ord(name[i])

    nice_ascii = string.ascii_letters + string.digits
    nice_ascii_nr = [ord(c) for c in nice_ascii]
    code_list = 4*[0]
    for i in  range(3):
        avg = (code_sum - sum(code_list)) // (4-i)
        code_list[i] = min(nice_ascii_nr, key=lambda x: abs(x-avg))
    code_list[3] = code_sum - sum(code_list)
    code = "".join([chr(c) for c in code_list] )
    return code

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser("Keygen for Old_KeygenMe.exe")
args = parser.parse_args()
if len( < 4:
    print("Name must have at least 4 characters")
code = keygen(
print("enter the following code: {}".format(code))
print("next enter SHIFT+3 and hit OK")
print("-> so on US keyboards enter: {}".format(code+"#"))

Here’s a test::

> sheldon
enter the following code: SSSS
next enter SHIFT+3 and hit OK
-> so on US keyboards enter: SSSS#