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• Don't post to argue a point of view. • Flair your question after you've submitted it. Category filters. Alright, for this explanation, let us assume that we have a program that you want to 'try'.
This program needs a key that has 16 numbers, each one 0 to 9. Said that you acquire a small amount of keys and generate the formula based on those. However, say we have the following: 0478-1033-6147-0333 5500-3511-1819-5675 9172-3163-6369-9191 7908-1171-1394-7075 2550-2711-4216-2469 1234-1321-1233-1233 8142-0797-1001-8445 9336-0002-5196-9025.it's seemingly impossible to see any pattern in that. The people who make programs try to make it hard to guess which ones are valid and which ones aren't.
However, when you put the key into the program, it somehow knows if the key is valid or not. What the program is doing is checking a predetermined formula to see if the key fulfills the formula.
Now, here's where the hackers are clever. Instead of just trying to figure out the formula by guessing, they open the program up (disassemble it) and look at what it's told to do when it's given a key. That is the formula that is needed.
They take that formula, and write a program of their own that makes keys so that formula is fulfilled. If the hackers coded the keygen right, then any code that it generates will pass the formula, so any key will be valid. For instance, trying to guess what codes are valid is hard. But if you open up the program and see the following: Check if digit4 is double that of digit2, and ignore anything above the ones column. 4 -> 8, 7 -> 4 Check if digits 5-8, as a single number, are prime.
Check if digit9+digit10 are equal to digit12. Check if digit13 is the same as digit1. Check if the last digit is odd.then you can just make a program that makes your own number with those restrictions, and any key that followed those rules would be valid. [By the way, all the above keys fulfill the criteria.] There are other factors, such as a lot of software checking online to see if the key is valid, but those are more along the lines of circumvention and not the actual keygen process. Edit: This is also why some keygens have a 'signature' in the key. For instance, a lot of Razor1911's keys have a RAZR or 1911 in them. If they were to crack my program, an example key that would be generated would be: 1050-0007-4307-1911 • • • •.
A real simple way to create a keygen is to open the original program and just take the key-validation bit verbatim. Copy it into a program that generates random keys and just tries them all out - when you hit one that works, report it to the user. Depending on the complexity might take a while - but to get the generation time above a minute you'd need to have a chance of less than 1 in 50 million to get it right - and that requires valid users to type 6-8 extra characters. It's a tradeoff.
My knowledge on reverse engineering programs is quite dated as I acquired that knowledge when I was a teenager - IE, slightly over 10 years ago - but back then there were tools that could runtime disassemble programs. There are the hacker-community tools (SoftICE, Hiew) that can do this, in-between tools (IDA Pro) that can do this but most software creation tools can also do this (GDB, Visual Studio, most regular debuggers). If all else fails, all the formats used are quite extensively documented so you can view them with a hex editor and change things manually. You can't decompile the software though. You will get assembly-level code that should more or less look like the original code, but at a very low level. Modifying a lot is going to be very hard, but for things such as adding a function or modifying some existing code, quite possible. There is a tool that can give you an immense amount of insight that's part of binutils, usually shipped along with GCC.