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How?
Authored by: macubergeek on Mar 28, '04 08:47:15AM

I'd be curious to find out how the author determined just which string of Hex to edit?
I find his hack fascinating and would just like to learn a bit more about his methodology.



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How?
Authored by: mistercow on Mar 28, '04 04:03:33PM

The process for finding this kind of thing can be very grueling, but it can often be worth it. I didn't come up with the hack, so I can only guess at the process, but I have done other hacks using similar techniques with HexEdit. The key is to know what you are looking for. Those executable files are in machine language, so for the most part they are unreadable by humans. However, if you know what the value is that you want, you can find it.

Here is a possible process that the author might have gone through to make this hack. First you might use a utility like Pixie (from Apple's dev tools) to find the color values for the stripes on the background in IE. Then you can search for those hex values in HexEdit. Replacing them with whatever values you want will yield different results.

Of course, the process can be harder or easier depending on how much data is present. Here is an example of a hack I did recently (I forget what app, and what exact purpose). There was a text field that limited the length of text allowed. I determined what the length was (lets say it was 17 characters; I don't remember specifically). I searched the executable file in the app for the hex value of that number (for 17 this is 11). I then replaced that value with FF (255 in decimal). Then I opened the app to test it. If the field was still limited to 17 characters, or if the app crashed, I reverted the file and tried again. I repeated this process until I found the correct location. Of course, this took a long time. With an application you will find the single byte '11' is very common, so it is likely you will go through hundreds of tries. If you have more data to search for, the process can be much faster, but it may be in a different format than expected, so it may be harder.

Another thing to keep in mind with this kind of hacking of applications is that since everything in a compiled application is so carefully calibrated, the length of the file must stay the same. If you are searching for a string (often the easiest kind of hack) you must keep in mind that your change must keep the string at exactly the same length.

Also keep in mind that there may be practical reasons for whatever it is you are trying to change. If a text field is limited to 17 characters, for example, it may be to fix a bug or to prevent illegal or obnoxious use (if, for example, the application deals with networking).

Anyway, there is often a better use of your time. These hacks can take a long time and more than often will turn up no results. On the other hand, if you are extremely bored and something just irritates you, this is an activity that can pass hours very quickly.



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