Feeds

Vista keygen hoax exposed

As other attacks surface

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Doubts have arisen about the effectiveness of a Windows key generator package that allegedly offered a means to circumvent Microsoft's anti-piracy protection.

Activation codes for Vista were said to have been obtained by brute force using key generator software that randomly tries a variety of 25-digit codes until it finds one that works.

Initial reports on Keznews suggested that the unsophisticated attack worked. Over the weekend, however, the author of the package has stepped forward to say these people must be either mistaken or telling porkies because the program is ineffective.

"The brute force keygen is a joke. I never intended for it to work. I have never gotten it to work. Everyone should stop using it," the anonymous coder said on a post to the Keznews forum.

Rather than go through the tedious business of running something like the key generation, we heard from Register readers that some people on either side of the Atlantic have surreptitiously used the activation codes printed on boxed copies of Vista or stickers on new PCs to get their system up and running with illicitly downloaded copies of Vista.

One reader cast doubt on this approach saying that Vista keys are normally inside copies of boxed software so users would have to undo shrink wrapped packaging. That still leaves the possibility of copying codes from stickers on PCs with Vista preloaded, however.

And although the Windows key generator may be a hoax, Hexus reports a more workable approach to cracking Vista.

The latest attack exploits Vista's System Locked Pre-installation 2 (SLP2) mechanism, technology which allows Microsoft's favoured hardware partners to avoid users having to activate their Vista installs. SLP2 combines an OEM specific certificate along with markers in the machine's BIOS and an appropriate product key.

The hack involves creating a BIOS emulator that serves up the correct BIOS data when needed. Used in combination with the appropriate OEM certificate and product key this defeats the activation mechanism. Information on the OEM certificates and other information needed for the hack to work are available. Withdrawing the affected keys in order to defeat the hack would likely upset Microsoft's OEMs.

Although Microsoft might still be able to defeat it, the hack might be effective in the short-term, and emulator writers might update their technology too, creating a serious headache for Microsoft, Hexus reports. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.