John is studying. he's an almost-Electronics Engineer with great experience and knowledge that would put on shame most of my old teachers.
John teached me a lot and knew that I like to reverse software protection schemes.
He's more a hardware guy and doesn't mess a lot with software, only when needed or if it has some PLC's in the way :)
So John called and showed me WinProp Suite, by AWE Communications, which I didn't knew.
And John had a big problem, he couldn't afford the paid version, and his school doesn't have many machines with WinProp installed. Also, we wants to study at home. How did we do it?
Yes, we could have downloaded some torrent + crack, but that would be illegal and wouldn't teach us anything.
Also, the available versions online aren't the same that John uses at school. And he's kind of picky when something changes in the way he works.
So, let's fire up OllyDbg and see what we can find. A few breakpoints ahead and I've found out that some DLL was taking care of the registration process.
Later that night, WinProp was working, fully ...cough, cough... licensed, DLL patched and John happier than ever.
I did warned John: "DO NOT DISTRIBUTE THE DLL", which he replied: "Of course not, I need it only for myself this semester, to study for the final exam."
This little advantage that now John had, would be enough to have a better score.
And he did, the greatest score in the class, only because a few bytes, JMP's and NOP's :)
Now what? There's already plenty of cracked versions and patches available online. Yet, I felt obligated to warn AWE, which I did next day, by e-mail.
I've explained the technical details about the patch, and how it could be fixed or at least how to make it harder for crackers to figure it out.
Did I received a reply? NO. Did they care? NO. So I don't care either. You go ahead and search for WinProp, there's lots of keygens/cracks, but you won't find my patched DLL.
I've compromised in that e-mail that would not distribute the patch.
Did they deserve my honesty? NO, but at least I sleep quietly without having to worry about ethics.