[LINK] Windows XP wide open using Windows 2000 CD

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd@austarmetro.com.au
Thu, 20 Feb 2003 16:58:24 +1100

Windows XP wide open using Windows 2000 CD
Mark Joseph Edwards, Windows & .NET Magazine 
Thursday, 20 February 2003
An interesting glitch has turned up in Microsoft's Windows XP OS. According
to a report published in a newsletter ("Brian's Buzz on Windows") from
Briansbuzz.com, an intruder can access an XP system without restriction by
simply using a Windows 2000 CD-ROM to launch a Recovery Console.

According to newsletter publisher Brian Livingston, one of his readers,
Tony DeMartino, alerted him to the problem. Livingston says that once a
user launches a Recovery Console on an XP system by using a Win2K CD-ROM,
the user has complete administrative access to the system, without the need
for a password. The user can then copy any files on the system to removable
media, which usually isn't allowed without a password. The user can also
perform other actions on the system with full administrative privileges.

Livingston said he notified Microsoft about the problem several weeks ago
but hasn't received a response to date. Livingston acknowledges Microsoft's
long-known stance that "if a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to
your computer, it's not your computer anymore," but points out that
complete system access shouldn't be as simple as obtaining a Win2K CD-ROM
to use as the keys to the front door.

Windows & .NET Magazine reporter Ken Pfeil tested this scenario and found
that the process does in fact work as stated. As Livingston pointed out in
his newsletter, until Microsoft fully addresses this matter, users should
keep an even closer eye on their computers. Little can be done to prevent
this sort of intrusion, except to physically secure your computers.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
-- Confucius


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia