Workaround Patterns (Part 3)

What happens when Hidden Output and Frozen Process patterns don’t help with annoying popup windows? The former can’t prevent windows from reappearing afresh and the latter could block other coupled processes that might exchange window messages with our suspended process or simply use any IPC mechanism. Here Axed Code pattern can help as demonstrated below. One process was frequently and briefly showing network disconnection message box or dialog. The problem is that it was also bringing its main window into foreground disrupting work in other windows because they were loosing focus. Next time the dialog appeared we found its process ID in Task Manager and attached WinDbg to it. We wasn’t sure what dialog function to intercept so we put a general breakpoint on all “Dialog” functions for all threads:

0:000:x86> bm *Dialog*
  6: 73a8ba81 @!"MFC80!CDialog::~CDialog"
  7: 73ac25e2 @!"MFC80!CPageSetupDialog::~CPageSetupDialog"
  8: 73a94b6b @!"MFC80!CDHtmlDialog::_AfxSimpleScanf"
  9: 73a8fbe9 @!"MFC80!CFileDialog::OnTypeChange"
 10: 73a90b17 @!"MFC80!CColorDialog::GetRuntimeClass"
 11: 73a8bb4a @!"MFC80!CDialog::CreateIndirect"
360: 73a93750 @!"MFC80!CDHtmlDialog::OnNavigateComplete"
361: 73a8f1f3 @!"MFC80!CCommonDialog::OnOK"
362: 73a95d9f @!"MFC80!CDHtmlDialog::GetDropTarget"
363: 73a90266 @!"MFC80!CPrintDialog::GetDevMode"
364: 73ac1514 @!"MFC80!COleInsertDialog::COleInsertDialog"
365: 73ac27c7 @!"MFC80!COlePropertiesDialog::COlePropertiesDialog"
366: 73a75282 @!"MFC80!CWnd::UpdateDialogControls"
367: 73a7fd86 @!"MFC80!CDialogBar::SetOccDialogInfo"

0:000:x86> g
Breakpoint 314 hit
73a7134e 55              push    ebp

0:000:x86> kL 100
ChildEBP RetAddr  Args to Child             
0027ed2c 73a7180a MFC80!_AfxPostInitDialog
0027ed90 75628817 MFC80!_AfxActivationWndProc+0x90
0027edbc 7562898e USER32!InternalCallWinProc+0x23
0027ee34 7562c306 USER32!UserCallWinProcCheckWow+0x109
0027ee78 756375a2 USER32!SendMessageWorker+0x55b
0027ef4c 7563787a USER32!InternalCreateDialog+0xb64
0027ef70 75649b65 USER32!CreateDialogIndirectParamAorW+0x33
0027ef9c 75225192 USER32!CreateDialogParamA+0x4a
WARNING: Stack unwind information not available. Following frames may be wrong.
0027efc8 010c3bf1 DllA!WarningPopup+0×152
0027effc 73a71812 ProcessA+0×9fa1
00000000 00000000 MFC80!_AfxActivationWndProc+0×98

Now we cleared all breakpoints and put the new breakpoint on WarningPopup function:

0:000:x86> bc *

0:000:x86> bp DllA!WarningPopup

0:000:x86> g
Breakpoint 0 hit
75225040 51              push    ecx

Then we assumed that the calling convention was the default one used by C or C++ code like _cdecl and took the bold step to replace push ecx with ret instruction:

0:000:x86> a 75225040
75225040 ret

0:000:x86> g
Breakpoint 0 hit
75225040 c3 ret

0:000:x86> bc *

0:000:x86> g

Result: no warning popups anymore.

I originally intended to name the pattern Patched Code but then realized that code axing can also be done at the source code level as a quick temporal fix.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

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