Feeds

Windows recovery loophole lets hackers in

Who do want to own today?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Windows Vista may be Microsoft's most secure operating system to date, but researchers are still finding some glaring loopholes for hackers to exploit. Here is the latest: all you need is a Vista Install DVD to get admin level access to a hard drive.

The loophole arises because the Command Prompt tool in Vista's System Recovery Options fails to request user name or passwords before handing over access to PCs running the operating system. The hack, discovered by security researcher Kimmo Rousku, only works locally. Physical access to a target PC is a must. Even so, the potential for mischief (such as deleting directories or copying files on targeted PCs) is enormous. Hackers don't even necessarily need to run a DVD. "It’s easy to create a bootable USB flash memory that works in a similar way," Rousku notes.

He discovered the problem during a training workshop on Vista back in February and reported it to Microsoft at the time. Since then, Microsofti has sat on the problem, according to Rousku, so he has gone public. The hack also works on machines running other versions of Vista, providing the PCs are not protected by full disc encryption.

A write-up by Rousku explains the issue in detail and suggests workarounds.

Anti-virus firm F-Secure notes that getting into PCs running Windows XP Home is also straightforward, at least in default set-ups, using a different trick. "The Administrator account password for XP Home is blank by default and is hidden in Normal Mode. But if you select F8 during boot for Safe Mode, you can access the Administrator account and have complete access to the computer," F-Secure notes. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
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.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.