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Author Topic: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking  (Read 3160 times)

pianohombre

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Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« on: December 18, 2020, 12:37:07 am »
Hacking in any illegal manner is known as "cracking". This includes unauthorized access into government or military databases, stealing banking info, illegal transactions, stealing personal info such as photos or videos over the cloud, and pirating (movies, music, software, etc.). All of this stuff will get you into trouble, most likely into state or federal prison depending on the circumstances, and the arresting agency, and the severity of the crime (such as amount of money stolen for example). So for the longest time even after seeing this stuff in TV and movies (Hackers, Swordfish, Mr. Robot, etc) you get Hollywood's idea of what hackers are really like, and then if you read some books or articles you can find out even more into what they are really like (usually insider's that work at the company such as in Mr. Robot's case).

So now we have "rom hacking". Mainly use hex editors to edit videogames for owner's of the videogame already. The worst-case scenario is usually copyright infringement, or in the case of AM2R, where the author creates a fan-based game from scratch based on a copyrighted character a cease-and-desist letter. (Nintendo did eventually release a faithful Metroid 2 remake however lol). Although I have joined sites where the goal was to solve puzzles and do simple script-kiddie hacking I've never dabbled in anything illegal, which brought me here. I'm so glad it's all legal, and usually very fun and a good learning experience.

Thoughts? Have you ever faced legal consequences for your efforts in "hacking", you are willing to share, or is it just a hobby to create more levels in your favorite childhood games? Thanks for reading!! and happy holidays
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MysticLord

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2020, 03:06:39 am »
1. No one cares about old games except us and maybe Nintendo once every few years.
2. We're not using them to harm anyone, make money, or do anything but spend our own time.
3. Anyone with any sense not only doesn't use their real name online, but has bait posted everywhere that will lead potential doxers/investigators on a wild goose chase. The wisest among us left bait which will lead investigators to make actionable claims against people with the ability to sue them right back.

Considering that most law enforcement agencies do promotions based on either arrest rates or convictions, and none of what we do is dangerous/sexy/profitable for the arresting/prosecuting officers (that is, they can't make much money or look cool to the media/women by arresting/prosecuting us), none of them have significant incentives to bother with us.

If like Disney (who by the way stopped paying royalties - they are legally required to pay - to some creators this past year) has some newb lolyer, and said lolyer decides to sue us in the hope that they will get promoted for harassing us, then it might change.

The only circumstance in which I can see us becoming a target is if modern popular entertainment becomes so much more awful than it already is that people turn to us for entertainment. Unlikely, but not impossible. In that case "content" companies would go after us because it's a low-effort way to shut down a competitor for people's attention. Given that the USA is in the post-Republic looting phase (and we even have our own amiable braindead Yeltsin to preside over the looting), this sort of lawfare will probably pop up in the next 5 years (assuming we're not all in trenches lobbing grenades at one another to support each sides preferred bankers and elites who loathe us before then).
« Last Edit: December 18, 2020, 05:32:41 am by MysticLord »

FAST6191

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2020, 08:04:59 am »
Grabbing some entertainment for the evening from a torrent site is unlikely to get you federal time, indeed a civil fine would be a rarity (though an option so probably best to have a VPN sans logs or a better method) and does not really warrant being in the same sentence as the rest. Ripping the average optical disc is also nothing special, though should you be caught the yeah. Actually cracking a game... that could be something.

Equally ROM hacking, be you the "uses a level editor" or "actually knows what data representation is", revolves around hex editing the same way programming revolves around using a mouse. This is to say you can but you are doing it wrong. Or go another way. Linux has most emulators ported to it or a functional equivalent and some pretty nice hex editors... not so many ROM hackers on it as their hacking setup.


Most fan games getting pinged (can't say it is something I tend to connect to ROM hacking, I mean the people that made a sprite sheet might be ROM hackers, but OK) tend to be trademark concerns as well when I read the takedown notices.

I would probably also say most ROM hacking does not leave you particularly well disposed for playing hacker (or cracker if you care to make the distinction -- if I must then attacker-defender is probably where I would go instead) -- most social engineering in ROM hacking tends to be figuring out which of the "I want to test your WIP translation" is not going to turn around and "release" it for internet cool guy points, your translator is more likely to have a database and know some SQL than you are, the only changelog you will likely be paying attention to is that of a programming language rather than attack vectors, the only time you care about remote access it is probably for work or guiding a relative to install anydesk/teamviewer/whatever over the phone to help them format a document or install their new printer, and this sort of differences list could go on for a while.

Legal consequences. I try to keep an eye on such things (and again I consider fan games a whole separate affair with different legal challenges). Pretty much all of them have involved Japanese companies (Japan is hotter on copyright than most), and most of those people releasing translations for newer games or in the case of the first one I know of then something that could cause concern among the customer base.
Said first one
https://www.theregister.com/2005/02/10/tecmo_sues_xbox_game_hackers/
https://www.theregister.com/2005/05/27/tecmo_drops_ninjahacker_suit/

Chrono Trigger, once incredibly popular as a game to hack, is generally held as being squashed by a dubious claim.

7th Dragon on the DS (Sega,
https://rastsan.wordpress.com/my-translation-projects/7th-dragon-english-translation-project/

Final Fantasy Type 0 PSP
https://www.vg247.com/2014/07/18/final-fantasy-type-0-translation-psp-vita/
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140721/13153627958/square-enix-nixes-3-years-fan-translation-work-psp-despite-not-releasing-english-version-psp.shtml
Now from what I saw the patch was basically the whole game, and they did claim they were going to be releasing a new one.

Some count pokemon prism here, I am not sure I do and if it was it was more trademark confusion from what I saw.

The Mario 64 decompilation still seems to be shining brightly on public github, as do several pokemon and Mario disassemblies, so I have no idea what goes with that one. I would have thought it counted as all the derived works and copyrighted data (none of those are anything like cleanroom recreations). Only real guess then is they don't want to risk a negative (for them) precedent being set in a court case. Some of the compilations get smacked down though.

Videos do seem to be a target, and not just from Nintendo ( https://www.xbox.com/en-us/developers/rules , first of the rules, and Sega vs Shining videos is a somewhat forgotten one now but I will keep the memory alive) but not sure what to say about this.
That said
https://gamingreinvented.com/news/missing-link-author-considers-suing-nintendo-over-rom-hack-video-takedowns/
that is an interesting case. Most others seem to be them being heavy handed over detailing modifications (the modern vintage gamer stuff probably being the most egregious https://vimeo.com/user97373407 , though them smacking down mod chip installs does not sit well either).

RickkyJaden

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2020, 11:32:31 am »
I think this is just because gaming is still a culture,despite this is so popular. It is like UK music scene (do you know about it?) this is like USA hip-hop scene, but if you will spit over somebodys instrumental you will be charged for a money and maybe you will some other problems.
In England grime mc`s are sharing their culture via spreading their best material - for example, one producer did a great instrumental. He can just throw it out and somebody will purchase, but after the original purchase 10 or more mc`s will spit on it, and NOBODY will say that this is a fraud or these 10 mcs are thiefs because THIS IS CULTURE and there is something more than money.
About hacking - recently I have faced some real hacking case. My phone just `died` because of unknown spy app which just destroyed my battery (yes, it can happen), I discover that it was because of spy apps after I read some articles in internet, all symptoms were faced by my phone. Then I digged deep and found, that everyone(even under 18 people) can purchase these spy-track-call recording etc crack app for a couple of dollars, the first website I`ve seen with a certain offer was the teen safe, so these digits are real, you can watch for anyone who you need for around 10$ or something like this without them knowing.
I don`t know why manufacturers are still keeping silence? Or they are in tight with these app developers?
Riccky, 20y.All I love in my life is a hockey,basketball and music creating. Learning in Linguistic School. Recently I have finished 3rd academic year, I like this one by the way, I didn`t thought that learning will give me pleasure.
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pianohombre

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2020, 03:13:00 pm »
I think this is just because gaming is still a culture,despite this is so popular. It is like UK music scene (do you know about it?) this is like USA hip-hop scene, but if you will spit over somebodys instrumental you will be charged for a money and maybe you will some other problems.

I've heard of bands like The Clash or Sex Pistols.

A few years ago I was incarcerated for a couple months, and met some guy who kept bragging he was an 31337 hacker. Then he finally talked about his case and it was just child porn. But it was pretty serious because he was facing about a decade behind bars in a federal prison.

Fortunately, most games have been hacked to death so even big corporations like Nintendo release level editing games like Mario Maker. Sega released a level editor for Sonic but it was taken down. Games like Minecraft, force you to do your own hacking/editing of the stage.
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RadioTails

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2021, 06:45:59 pm »
AM2R was a fan made game (fan remake), not a rom hack. Nintendo took it down because:
1 - It was using their copyrighted property.
2 - Another company was officially remaking Metroid II for the Nintendo 3DS.

So Nintendo weren't just going to sit by and let this fan made remake take away from sales, even if it was better than the official release. Although the person who made it did get hired as a programmer for a different company, so there is a happy ending.

Now with this website, they host IPS Patches and not the ROM/ISO itself. IPS Patches only contains the data that needs to be changed, so it is legal to upload.
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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2021, 06:20:35 pm »
It seems popular to point to Nintendo's legal defeat against the Game Genie as paving the way for "remix culture".
https://tedium.co/2015/06/30/the-game-genie-generation/

Hacking in any illegal manner is known as "cracking".
That is a particular semantic distinction I doubt many people would use.

Quote
The worst-case scenario is usually copyright infringement, or in the case of AM2R, where the author creates a fan-based game from scratch based on a copyrighted character a cease-and-desist letter. (Nintendo did eventually release a faithful Metroid 2 remake however lol).
I understand that even though the author stopped supporting it, it is not at all difficult to find and there has even been further development (somehow).
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pianohombre

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2021, 10:27:40 pm »
Did you guys hear about a famous hacking case during the summer of 2020, where a teen faked being tech support and calling employees at Twitter to get them into a website for "updates" but it was really a phishing account where he got access to the high level accounts at Twitter, then taking over valuable accounts and reselling them, and also got control of Obama, Biden, and other celebrity accounts where he asked followers for "donations" to a bitcoin site, where he earned millions?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/30/twitter-hack-phone-attack/

Honestly, my favorite hacking stories are the ones where an experienced programmer exploits bugs in code to gain unauthorized access to account before they do whatever to it. This happens a lot on popular applications like Wordpress where they release updates every week and most are for minor stuff, but sometimes there is a major update and people are too lazy to install it. Honestly, I don't really condone defacing websites and people's hard work, but if there is a KKK web site, for example or something promoting hate speech, I don't mind too much if it is down for a couple months.
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RickkyJaden

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2021, 05:02:22 pm »
Did you guys hear about a famous hacking case during the summer of 2020, where a teen faked being tech support and calling employees at Twitter to get them into a website for "updates" but it was really a phishing account where he got access to the high level accounts at Twitter, then taking over valuable accounts and reselling them, and also got control of Obama, Biden, and other celebrity accounts where he asked followers for "donations" to a bitcoin site, where he earned millions?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/30/twitter-hack-phone-attack/

Honestly, my favorite hacking stories are the ones where an experienced programmer exploits bugs in code to gain unauthorized access to account before they do whatever to it. This happens a lot on popular applications like Wordpress where they release updates every week and most are for minor stuff, but sometimes there is a major update and people are too lazy to install it. Honestly, I don't really condone defacing websites and people's hard work, but if there is a KKK web site, for example or something promoting hate speech, I don't mind too much if it is down for a couple months.

I also like histories like this.
But if to think about the guy who did it.. What was his target?
There were numerous hack attacks for all history and almost everybody was caught, he is just a usual hero of another website article..

If you can hack whole social media - seems like you are not idiot in cybersecurity xd so maybe he could go for some `white` activity  :'(
Riccky, 20y.All I love in my life is a hockey,basketball and music creating. Learning in Linguistic School. Recently I have finished 3rd academic year, I like this one by the way, I didn`t thought that learning will give me pleasure.
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pianohombre

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2021, 02:54:07 pm »
He wasn't a White Hat hacker; definitely Black Hat.

Silicon Valley was a show that entertained ideas of entrepreneurship and programming, rather than vicious cyber attacks. It was also a comedy.
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MysticLord

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2021, 08:03:05 pm »
Did you guys hear about a famous hacking case during the summer of 2020, where a teen faked being tech support and calling employees at Twitter to get them into a website for "updates" but it was really a phishing account where he got access to the high level accounts at Twitter, then taking over valuable accounts and reselling them, and also got control of Obama, Biden, and other celebrity accounts where he asked followers for "donations" to a bitcoin site, where he earned millions?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/30/twitter-hack-phone-attack/

Honestly, my favorite hacking stories are the ones where an experienced programmer exploits bugs in code to gain unauthorized access to account before they do whatever to it. This happens a lot on popular applications like Wordpress where they release updates every week and most are for minor stuff, but sometimes there is a major update and people are too lazy to install it. Honestly, I don't really condone defacing websites and people's hard work, but if there is a KKK web site, for example or something promoting hate speech, I don't mind too much if it is down for a couple months.
IIRC that was a 3rd party overseas contractor (subtext: Fiverr worker from India) who sold his credentials when he was let go. For some reason they never removed his access, and the attacker used that to get more privileges and it snowballed from there.

Pretty wild stuff, he could have crashed the stonk market with a few fake Trump tweets, started a war, downloaded blackmail material from DMs (which are visible to Twitter janitors), or similarly nefarious deeds; but instead he just shilled a few ****coin scams and made a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The things I could do with admin access at Twitter...
*rubs hands while cackling*

pianohombre

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2021, 03:36:33 pm »
MysticLord, yeah I'm not an expert on all the details, but that sounds about right. They are trying to prosecute him with some serious time though, and I think he even was in juvenile hall. Actually that's funny. I just re-watched Hackers (my god that movie feels like stepping into a time machine) and the lead character had a criminal record that went back to juvenile hall, but he was still in high school after the flashback.
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Voltaire99

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2021, 02:09:08 pm »
@pianohombre if you like that twitter hack story, you would probably really enjoy Darknet diaries which is an amazing podcast about crazy hacking stories like this one, the XBox episode is insane https://darknetdiaries.com/episode/45/

Ravenfreak

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Re: Rom Hacking vs. Hacking
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2021, 02:25:24 pm »
Never once got in trouble for hacking Sonic, but then again Sega encourages hacks of their games unlike another company *coughNintendocough* Rom hacking and hacking are two different things. I recall someone mentioning over at Sonic Retro that perhaps people should start using the word modding rather than hacking when it comes to rom hacking but I've used the term "ROM hacking" for years now and I probably won't stop. I'm all for white hat hacking, showing exploits in big major websites that handle sensitive information should not be able to be easily hacked, and for those hackers who find exploits and brings that attention to the webmaster of said sites is a hero in my eyes. I don't like black hat hackers, the ones that only do damaging stuff for their own personal gain.