06 Nov 2010 @ 6:09 PM 

Well, it seems people are getting crazy about android platform(everyone is trying to buy an android phone!). I don’t have an android cell phone but, lets see if I can get my hands dirty with this Linux+java clean room engineered platform 😉

To begin our journey we need Android SDK, a target to test with and the necessary tools.

You can download the necessary file from these locations:

Android SDK: http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html

Deurus android crackme 03: http://crackmes.de/users/deurus/android_crackme03/

Smali and baksmali: http://code.google.com/p/smali/

Dex2jar: http://code.google.com/p/dex2jar/

Java decompiler: http://java.decompiler.free.fr/

Download and install android SDK, SDK platform(latest is 2.2 at the time of writing), necessary java packages and rest of the tools. Create a virtual device from SDK menu and start emulation. Within few minutes you can see the emulator booting up and showing the phone screen. Well, thats it! we have our emulator up and running.

Now we need to install the software(crackme, its legal!) to the emulator. For that you may have to get acquainted with android debug bridge(adb).  Installing a apk file is pretty simple, all you have to do is to run two commands from android SDK directory/tools.

adb install

After the installation you can see the crackme icon from application menu.

android emulator

Now run the crackme by clicking on it. If everything went as expected you will see the crackme application on the screen.

android crackme

Now we will play with it, pressing check button with no inputs pops a message “Min 4 chars”, and with a proper name it pops up “Bad boy”. We have to remember these strings because we will be using them as our search keys when we dis assemble the apk(actually dex) files. Also note that we have two hardware ids and we need to find out what those exactly means.

As our crackme is up and running in emulator, we now move onto reversing it. If you have read apk file format, you can visualize it as a extended jar file which essentially is a zip file. Now you can change the crackme file name from Crackme03.apk to Crackme03.zip and decompress it to any folder.

apk file

Now the interesting file for us is classes.dex, which contains the compiled vm codes. We are going to disassemble the dex file with baksmali. Commands are pretty simple as you can see from screen shots.

baksmali disassembly

If everything worked fine, we will have a folder structure similar to java packages. Interesting .smali files are located at “\com\example\helloandroid”. Open all the .smali files into your favorite text editor(I use NPP). If you have never done anything related to reverse engineering/esoteric programming/assembly(IL) programming, you will probably think: WTF!. Relax. We have just opened a disassembled dex file. Now, if you are thinking how on earth someone can find the correct location of checking function, I hope you remember those pop up strings I told earlier. Yeah, “Min 4 chars” and “Bad boy”. Now we will use those strings as our search keys. Searching “Min 4 chars” in all the opened .smali files, we will find a hit in HelloAndroid$2.smali line 130.

dex disassembly(I just applied java syntax highlighter as I don’t have dalvik syntax files)

Our aim is to understand the serial checking function and write a keygen for it. For that we have to know all the dalvik opcodes that are used here. You can visit this page to understand the opcodes and after that you can convert disassembled code to much higher language constructs. I will provide a brief  code snippet which actually implements the algorithm. Two hardware ids used are IMEI and sim serial number.

//Read name from text box
const v23, 0x7f050004
invoke-virtual/range {v22 .. v23}, Lcom/example/helloandroid/HelloAndroid;->findViewById(I)Landroid/view/View;
move-result-object v9

//Read serial from text box
const v23, 0x7f050006
invoke-virtual/range {v22 .. v23}, Lcom/example/helloandroid/HelloAndroid;->findViewById(I)Landroid/view/View;
move-result-object v21

//Checking whether the name is of length greate than 4
const/16 v22, 0x4
move v0, v11
move/from16 v1, v22
if-ge v0, v1, :cond_51

//Popup showing Min 4 chars
const-string v23, "Min 4 chars"
const/16 v24, 0x1
.line 86
invoke-static/range {v22 .. v24}, Landroid/widget/Toast;->makeText(Landroid/content/Context;Ljava/lang/CharSequence;I)Landroid/widget/Toast;
move-result-object v13
.line 88
.local v13, notificacionToast:Landroid/widget/Toast;
invoke-virtual {v13}, Landroid/widget/Toast;->show()V

//There is a little exception trick to make integer string from username
//It converts aaaa to 97979797 which is ascii equivalent
invoke-virtual {v10, v5}, Ljava/lang/String;->charAt(I)C
move-result v3

//Getting first 5 chars from ascii converted name
const/16 v22, 0x0
const/16 v23, 0x5
move-object v0, v12
move/from16 v1, v22
move/from16 v2, v23
invoke-virtual {v0, v1, v2}, Ljava/lang/String;->substring(II)Ljava/lang/String;

//Converting it into integer and xoring with 0x6B016   - Serial part 1
invoke-static {v12}, Ljava/lang/Integer;->parseInt(Ljava/lang/String;)I
move-result v22
const v23, 0x6b016
xor-int v22, v22, v23

//Getting IMEI from TelephonyManager
invoke-virtual {v8}, Landroid/telephony/TelephonyManager;->getDeviceId()Ljava/lang/String;
move-result-object v6
.line 102
.local v6, imei2:Ljava/lang/String;

//Getting sim serial
invoke-virtual {v8}, Landroid/telephony/TelephonyManager;->getSimSerialNumber()Ljava/lang/String;
move-result-object v16
.line 103
.local v16, simsn:Ljava/lang/String;

//Getting first 6 chars from IMEI, and similarly from sim serial (IMEI.Substring(0,6) will be used as Serial part 3)
const/16 v22, 0x0
const/16 v23, 0x6
move-object v0, v6
move/from16 v1, v22
move/from16 v2, v23
invoke-virtual {v0, v1, v2}, Ljava/lang/String;->substring(II)Ljava/lang/String;

//Converting them to integer and xoring    - Serial part2
invoke-static/range {v19 .. v19}, Ljava/lang/Integer;->parseInt(Ljava/lang/String;)I
move-result v22
invoke-static/range {v20 .. v20}, Ljava/lang/Integer;->parseInt(Ljava/lang/String;)I
move-result v23
xor-int v22, v22, v23

//Making a new StringBuilder object and formatting the string to part1-part2-part3
new-instance v22, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
invoke-static {v12}, Ljava/lang/String;->valueOf(Ljava/lang/Object;)Ljava/lang/String;
move-result-object v23
invoke-direct/range {v22 .. v23}, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;-><init>(Ljava/lang/String;)V
const-string v23, "-"
invoke-virtual/range {v22 .. v23}, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;->append(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
move-result-object v22
invoke-static/range {v17 .. v18}, Ljava/lang/String;->valueOf(J)Ljava/lang/String;
move-result-object v23
invoke-virtual/range {v22 .. v23}, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;->append(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
move-result-object v22
const-string v23, "-"
invoke-virtual/range {v22 .. v23}, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;->append(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
move-result-object v22
move-object/from16 v0, v22
move-object/from16 v1, v19
invoke-virtual {v0, v1}, Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;->append(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
move-result-object v22

//Checking whether user entered serial and program made serials are equal.
invoke-virtual {v14, v15}, Ljava/lang/String;->equals(Ljava/lang/Object;)Z

As you can see, the algorithm is pretty straight forward. It is using name and two hardware ids as input and doing some operations on them to make a serial.  We can easily recode it in any programming language we prefer to make it as a keygen. Anyway, I am not posting any keygen sources as it will spoil the whole phun!

A demonstrative serial calculation routine is given below:

Name: aaaaa

HW ID1: 0000000000000000

HW ID2: 89014103211118510720

“aaaaa” will be converted to “9797979797”, from which we will take first 5 letters and convert it into integer 97979. This will be xored with 0x6B016(438294 in base to 10) resulting 511661 and this will be first part of serial. For second part, we will take first 6 letters from HW ID1 and HW ID2, convert them to integer and xor, resulting 000000^890141 = 890141. For third part we will use first 6 characters from HW ID1. Formatting with the specified delimiter the serial will become “511661-890141-000000”.

generated serial

Bingo! everything worked as expected. Now, for all those who thinks it is pretty hard to read all those disassembled instructions and manually converting them to higher language constructs, there are other options. As dalvik is based on design of java, it is also susceptible to decompilation. There is no decompiler available at this moment, but there is hope. For now we can use another utility which converts dex files to jar files so that we can use java decompilers to see much more abstracted code. From starting of this blog post you may have noticed the tool dex2jar. Use dex2jar to convert classes.dex to classes.dex.dex2jar.jar. Open it in a java decompiler and you can see much better output than dalvik disassembly. Please note that dex2jar is still in development phase and the output is meaningless at many places. This should be used only to get a quick understanding of all the functions called.

java decompiler

Well, thats it! We have analyzed an android program and defeated its protection. Cheerio!

Posted By: Dan
Last Edit: 14 May 2012 @ 05:54 PM



Responses to this post » (20 Total)

  1. Lopamudra says:

    Wow!! ingenious
    Even though I am a complete newbie in reverse engineering and assembly coding but still i am able to understand the methodologies. You are GREAT!!! DAN Sir
    I have read your posts in null forum and they are always impressive!!
    Keep it up

  2. lohan+ says:

    hey, good article. i didn’t know about dex2jar. keep writing this and spread the knowledge. i hope you don’t mind i am linking to this guide from my site. i have some “way of the android cracker” lessons there, but they’re not as visually appealing as this post. 😀

  3. deurus says:


    Good job!

    see you in another android crackme 😉

  4. mariano says:

    crackme is no longer available, who can send me a copy please!!

  5. Norris says:

    Hi, can someone upload the crackme plzz ?
    crackmes.de website is dead…. Thanks 🙂

  6. […] Android Reverse Engineering – A Kick Start byDhanesh presents technical notes and screen shots for analyzing an Android program from Linux. […]

  7. Preet says:


    Would like to know the setups for reversing Android malware on Windows Plateform.


  8. Preet says:

    hi Dan,
    thanks for your reply.

  9. chunpung says:

    I don’t understand why use 0x6b016
    Would you teach me, plz?

    God bless you ^^

  10. chunpung says:

    I test user name “bbbbb”
    it is 9898989898
    calculate 0x6b016^98989 = 997791
    but i’m bad boy
    what is wrong this solve?

    • Dan says:

      98989 is base to 10, so you have to convert it to hex or convert 0x6b016(438294) into base to the 10 and xor.
      That will be
      438294^98989 == 471739 (everything in base to 10)

  11. Chaitali Varughese says:

    Just taking a moment to let you know you have a brand new fan!
    Reading one post on your website made me absorbed straight away.

    Really, you are amazing!

  12. Rajat says:

    Hey Dan,
    Can you explain me the dissassembly step in bit more descriptive way ?

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