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Microsoft News

Microsoft Genuine Advantage Cracked 427

piyush ranjan writes "An Indian researcher has cracked the much-touted "impenetrable" Windows Genuine Advantage of Microsoft. According to Microsoft this service would soon require all Windows users to verify their license before downloading updates."
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Microsoft Genuine Advantage Cracked

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  • Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by krray ( 605395 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:18PM (#12885632)
    Indian cracks Microsoft's anti-piracy program

    Alok Sharma | June 21, 2005 14:53 IST

    An Indian researcher has breached the much-touted "impenetrable" Windows Genuine Advantage of Microsoft.

    Bangalore-based Debasis Mohanty has cracked WGA through an "easy-to-exploit" weakness in the software for generating illegal copies of the Windows XP programme.

    Microsoft confirmed the claims of Mohanty, but sought to downplay it saying, "It represents very little threat." A company spokesperson said they did expect counterfeiters to try a number of different methods to circumvent safeguards provided by WGA.

    WGA is an anti-piracy programme that keeps a tab on consumers whether they are running legitimately licensed copies of Windows XP.

    Mohanty has posted a detailed proof-of-concept programme on the high-profile security mailing list of the software giant, showing how the WGA validation check can be tricked to generate key codes for use on illegal copies of the software.

    Using a secondary Microsoft validation tool called 'genuinecheck.Exe', Mohanty claims to have made it possible for people to trick the safeguard mechanism and download and run the supposedly restricted software from Microsoft's download centre, he said.
    • Re:Text (Score:5, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:21PM (#12885660) Homepage Journal
      Did he stick tape over the Windows key during installation?
      Or did he perhaps hold down the shift key.

      The world must know.
      • Re:Text (Score:5, Funny)

        by Slack3r78 ( 596506 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:38PM (#12885763) Homepage
        No, he colored over the inner ring of the internet with a Sharpie.
      • Actually, he ran a Sharpie over the F1 key and it worked just fine.
      • Re:Text (Score:5, Funny)

        by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:59PM (#12885883) Journal
        Did he stick tape over the Windows key during installation? Or did he perhaps hold down the shift key.

        I share your amusement. Though I am by no means capable enough to perform such a task myself (those shift keys are tricky) it seems that a Microsoft program being cracked or broken or worked-around or otherwise finagled is not necessarily a breakthrough. I suppose the most news-worthy aspect of this particular crack was in response of someone sinking what Microsoft was apparently toting around as the Titanic.

        Interesting, yes. Front page? Maybe not other to rub it in Microsoft's face. This isn't the Special Olympics people. Not everyone gets a medal and a hug. :)

      • Re:Text (Score:3, Funny)

        by yason ( 249474 )

        We don't know but one thing is certain: Microsoft still employs weaker key lengths than 10 fingers. No wonder it's broken so easily except for the most severely handicapped crackers.

        The day when eleven simultaneous keypresses are required, also known as "next order fingerography", will mark the line between ordinary hackers and the wittiest ubercrackers. It has been rumoured that some are already preparing for those times with prototypes of a so-called "Eine Fingermaschine". Also, the piracy rings of the

    • Re:Text (Score:2, Funny)

      by Curtman ( 556920 )
      When's this being ported to Wine? :)
  • Download? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nightemaster ( 845586 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:19PM (#12885634)
    So... where can I download this?
    • Funny that you asked (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:27PM (#12885691)
      • Not a true crack (Score:5, Insightful)

        by andycal ( 127447 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:37PM (#12885757)
        From the doc linked to:
        >6. After downloading "GenuineCheck.exe", run it on the machine running a genuine copy of Windows XP.
        > It will generate a code which is used for WGA validation. Copy the code and use the same code to
        >validate a pirated copy of Windows XP and bypass the WGA.

        But that's bogus, you still need "access" to a authentic copy to perform this hack. It's not really a hack at all.

        But sadly this will only make it easier for people unwilling to pay for windows to continue to use it. It would be better if they had to find a cheeper (legal) solution.
        • Re:Not a true crack (Score:4, Interesting)

          by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#12885868)
          But that's bogus, you still need "access" to a authentic copy to perform this hack. It's not really a hack at all.

          Agreed. Microsoft could either restrict WGA downloads to only those using IE with ActiveX, or provide an alternative way for browsers to get past WGA. They did, and the simple/most user-friendly way is to get the user to download a program which will generate a key.

          There's no way that Microsoft could know that you were running the program on a different machine. It's an inherent weakness of the system, but one Microsoft needed to make to allow non-IE/ActiveX browsers to work with WGA.


        • But that's bogus, you still need "access" to a authentic copy to perform this hack. It's not really a hack at all.

          Agreed...I'd be much more impressed with a cracked Windows install that bypassed this GenuineAdvantage crap entirely, or a crack for the algorithm that generates this key code in the first place.

          Being tied to an authentic copy of XP leaves you vulnerable to blacklisting, and when that happens, the 'genuine' Windows product is in the shit as well.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 )

          But that's bogus, you still need "access" to a authentic copy to perform this hack. It's not really a hack at all.

          Hmmm ... really? From wiki [wikipedia.org]

          # Hack is a slang term in technology culture which has a number of meanings depending on context, including a joke, a programming exploit, or a commercial software break-in.

          I'd say an exploit is well-accepted as a hack. In is in. You do get bonus points for pretty, but it isn't mandatory.

      • What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

        by mpontes ( 878663 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:43PM (#12885792)
        I downloaded this out of curiosity, the only thing it contains is a DOC file with instructions.

        Anyway, what's the point of doing this? You can still download things from Microsoft's site if you don't validate. You just have to pick the "Don't validate" option. Oooh, great, some guy made it so you don't have to click the annoying "No, thanks" button every time you want to download Microsoft Anti-Spyware!

        The *real* challenge is to crack the activation algorithm. (which I belive that has some form of the RSA algorithm in it). People, WGA != activation. Activation is the one that's a bitch. If you happen to mess with your hardware in your Windows box a lot, you'll know what I mean. And since I can never use the Internet activation because I "Already used that code too many times" (Swapping IDE hard drives once in a while for backups with Windows is out of the question now?), I end up having to call Miss Microsoft Robot all the time, who always tells me it's very important to use Windows Update to protect my computer from viruses before she gives me my activation code.

        • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

          by avdp ( 22065 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:48PM (#12885827)
          The "No, thanks" option is supposed to go away at some point in the near future. Also Windows Update will not run without WGA in the near future as well.
        • Activation is the one that's a bitch. If you happen to mess with your hardware in your Windows box a lot, you'll know what I mean. And since I can never use the Internet activation because I "Already used that code too many times"

          Yeah, that's why it is a good idea to have a copy of the corporate install laying around. Even if you're legally licensed to use XP, that activation scheme is problematic. Solution? Install from corp edition CD that doesn't require activation. Probably a technical violatio

    • by aderen ( 323539 )
      What for? I thought everyone reading slashdot is using linux or mac.
    • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slash ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:31PM (#12885720) Homepage Journal
      Genuine Advantage is a pain in the arse for both registered and unregistered users. If reinstalling windows was a nightmare, imagine now with having to actually activate your windows. And now for updates? Come on!

      Somebody has to put an end to this.
      • by superpeach ( 110218 ) <adamf AT snika DOT uklinux DOT net> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#12885908) Homepage
        I had to activate windows over the phone the other day, because installing SP2 on it broke everything (well, it just didn't like the SIGNED graphics card driver).

        It kept hanging while it was starting up so I took all the expansion cards out, including the graphics card and used the onboard. Worked fine, apart from popping up a message saying the hardware had changed dramatically and windows needed to be reactivated. Didn't have time to play with it so I left it a few days. Next time I turned it on I couldn't do anything unleses I activated windows. Ok, I will just activate it over the internet - or I would if it was configured for the network it was connected to. Cancel activation so I can set up the network, nope, can't change network settings unleses I activate windows (even in safe mode). So, do I configure a DHCP server on another machine, or use the activate by phone option? It was a free call, but if I knew how long it was going to take for the auto responder to read out really really long numbers for me to type then I would have just set up a DHCP server.
        • by thrift24 ( 683443 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @10:55PM (#12886910) Homepage
          The worst has to be for setting up Microsoft Learning classes that use Virtual PC. You recieve about 2-10 virtual machine images that you have to activate by phone for every class(internet activation doesn't work).

          Now imagine the fun that comes Friday after class to try to activate 3 classes worth of these by Monday morning when microsofts activation line is down half the weekend. *joy*

          Don't you love Regina? That's what we call the Microsoft activation recording, she's screams numbers out like it's a punishment she's giving you. "5! 1! 2! 7! 5! *pleasant voice* would you like me to repeat that..."
          • by steve_l ( 109732 ) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @07:13AM (#12888062) Homepage
            If you have virtual PC or vmware you dont need to activate more than once.

            I have winXP VMs (domained, undomained), and a win98 vm (historical quirk). Once you get a stable image with msoffice, activate it, snapshot it, and duplicate the VM image. One tip: activate and snapshot before you domain it, as it is a real pain to undomain a win2k-domained image.

            Virtualization defeats activation.
      • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:07PM (#12885927) Homepage
        Genuine Advantage (What kind of name is that? What does it mean? It's not to my advantage to have to prove I paid for Windows every time I need to reinstall) and the like is one of the main reasons I switched to linux for everything but Grand Theft Auto. I refuse to pay ~$100 and then be treated like a theif. I will never pay for windows, in any capacity, again. If that forces me to build my own comptuer every time I upgrade, so be it.
        Luckily, these days linux is pretty nice, what with Ubuntu and all. You barely need to think any more when installing, and no annoying registration screens!
        • Advantage: MSFT (Score:4, Interesting)

          by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @09:35PM (#12886589)
          I am waiting for the time when MSFT has all updates and security patches restricted by their WGA initiative. When the next trojan/virus/worm hits the internet that fouls up the Registry, every business worldwide that is chained to MSFT will come to realize that MSFT has become their "silent partner". The Mafia's "protection rackets" of the 1920's and 1930's will look like child's play in comparison to the disruption of business that MSFT will be responsible for. And by the time that realization comes, it will be too late for many businesses -- they will grudgingly pay MSFT whatever is demanded, just in order to stay in business. And Borg Bill will have swept the "World Domination" Monopoly (TM) game.
        • by Daath ( 225404 ) <lp&coder,dk> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @11:01PM (#12886938) Homepage Journal
          WGA is really an acronym for Windows Genuine Annoyance, but Microsoft opted for "Advantage" since it sounded better marketing-wise. :D
      • Genuine Advantage is a pain in the arse for both registered and unregistered users

        Not really. For most users it is fire-and-forget, same as activation.

    • You can download it from Microsoft's website. In order to attract a younger audience... they are selling l337 Microsoft Hacks that can crack their operating systems. Cost is $799.99.
  • by chris09876 ( 643289 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:21PM (#12885652)
    I love how they say it represents very little threat. I guess we can expect them to save face, but someone must be kicking themselves over this one! "Very little threat" probably translates into millions of copies distributed over P2P networks :)
    • It does represent very little threat though - you still need access to a legitimate copy of XP to download a file. If you've got that, why not just download the files on the legitimate machine?
      • by ashmedai ( 869288 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:00PM (#12885892)
        Think about which is easier:

        1) Accessing a random legitimate install once for a minute or two.

        2) Accessing a legitimate install every time a new patch comes out, for however long it takes to download. Must also make arrangements to transport the downloaded files.

        That answer your question?
        • You're making the assumption that Microsoft will make each generated key grant you access to WPA for an indefinite period.

          This may be the case now during their trial period, but if Microsoft so desire, they can force you to generate a key for each download if you don't use IE/ActiveX.

    • Is it co-incidence, then, that I see an advertisement on the site that says, "Resumes Required Urgently"?
  • by 1967mustangman ( 883255 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:23PM (#12885667)
    The first is from George Patton : "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man." The second is from Karl von Clausewitz: "If you entrench yourself behind strong fortifications, you compel the enemy seek a solution elsewhere." I think these speak volumes
    • the von Clausewitz recommendation simply doesn't apply here. In the real world, with nations, armies, food, ammunition, and natural resources, you need to pick your enemies wisely. In the computer world, it hardly matters, because there is no real risk to you in trying to crack some encryption of Microsoft's, and weaker schemes are too easy to crack such that they can actually be *boring*. A lot of crackers, white or black hat, just aim for the biggest target for the thrill of it, because that's the whol
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#12885864)
        Both generals were talking about some kind of conventional warfare. Microsoft vs the hackers isn't conventional warfare. It is a lot closer to guerilla warfare. Against guerillas, a fortress is good protection. Of course, as Mao pointed out, the guerillas may be able to let their enemy rot in their fortified cities. That may be closer to what's happening here. Microsoft may be like the conventional army which alienates the population. When that happens, the war is as good as lost.

        Like the IRA said to Margaret Thatcher: "You have to be lucky always, we only have to be lucky once." Microsoft is in the same situation. The battle is ultimately for the hearts and minds of computer users everywhere. If Microsoft makes a pain of itself in its attempts to defend its territory, their customers will eventually defect to the other side.

        btw: Things have changed in Northern Ireland. The population is becoming VERY disenchanted with the IRA. Many Catholics now hate them more than they hate the Brits and regard them as little better than organized criminals. Similarly, with many years of hard work, Microsoft could regain its good name (but I'm not holding my breath).
      • by EggyToast ( 858951 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:31PM (#12886054) Homepage
        Very true. Not to mention that in many cases, those little boring programs just use a basic serial and then say "Hey, crackers, please don't crack or distribute my app. It's just a basic algorithm, but it's how I make a living."

        It sometimes amazes me how many crackers do have a conscience about the smaller guys, and how hard it can be to find passwords or cracks to cheap applications.

        I almost liken it to the p2p v. itunes thing. When you can find a song for a buck in 30 seconds, compared to attempting to locate one for free over the course of 30 minutes, for many people the $1 method is a lot easier. For lots of people looking for random utilities or programs, when they find something that works, does a job well, and is cheap, they'll plink down the money for it. At least compared to finding a crack over the course of a week that may or may not work.

        The smaller guys can also simply change-up the algorithm for the cracked passwords for each release every few weeks, something the big guys can't really do ;D

    • Fortifications (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#12885861) Homepage Journal
      There is a castle, located in the Middle East, that was so well designed that it was virtually impossible for an attacker to break in by force.


      Today, it would be possible to build a damn-near invincible fortress - use granite blocks of a similar size as those for the large stones in Stonehenge as bricks, have them interlock so that shockwaves can be carried non-destructively, and build it as a gigantic geodesic dome so that impacts are tangental and not perpendicular.


      This isn't "fool-proof" (fools are way too ingenious) but it would offer a formidable target that would be hard to punch through.


      Can you create something analogous in software, where the design is such that the "impact" of an attack is less likely to break through?


      Yes. The standard network "firewall" is just an electronic castle, permitting traffic only through controlled gates. A portcullis arrangement (two back-to-back firewalls with a NIDS system in the middle) would provide a stronger fortification, if historic warfare is any guide.


      The dome arrangement, where impacts are distributed so that no one component ever takes the brunt of the sttack, would be analogous to using a highly distributed security model, where different components in the model have to validate for the communication to be accepted. That way, exploits in any one component are of no value, unless absolutely identical flaws exist in ALL the components.


      Ok, so we've got a system that offers some semblance of security. Can it still do anything, without that security being compromised? After all, anyone can make a 100% secure computer by turning it off.


      Depends on how secure you want something. Let's take the key validation that Microsoft wants. What you want is non-duplicatable information. Easy enough - print a 1024-bit "public key" on the packet, which matches a private key on the validating server. Use the key to generate a unique ID, which is copied onto the computer. Any subsequent communication has to match the unique ID and the public key.

      • Yeah, damned near impregnable until the air force flies in with cruise missiles. You would have to build it DEEP underground and they have some nifty tactical nukes that will quickly eliminate that problem. You simply cannot build a fortress anymore. A highly mobile, covert force would be much more effective. Just ask the Vietnamese.

        I do agree with the multiple NIDS though, especially if the NIDS software is not the same on both ends. Its always at least a good failsafe to let you know that your firewall
      • Roger Cheswick has made a career for decades in explaining the problems with the castle-wall theory of computer defense. apparently he did so in vain, for there's always some clothpate who doesn't get the word.
    • Siege warfare (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man."

      One word... Leningrad... [wikipedia.org] Patton was a great general and one of the few Allied commanders the Germans geuinely respected but he was also an arrogant bastard (and he probably would have enjoyed being called that). Although he unfairly dismissed the value of fortifications he did have a point. The Romans for example preferred to besiege an enemy that was prepared to give battle. The reasoning being that it was cheaper in lives and money to starve h
    • these quotes can be interpreted in this context to be very different to what they meant by their authors.

      Though certainly the Patton quote seems analogous to the oft-said "Security is a process, not a product" in both intent and substance.

      My reaction to the second one however was that it was perhaps the more interesting one. Microsoft is seeking to defend themselves from their users-based and the general tendency for "casual copying" from friend to friend. So not only are they trying to entrench themsel
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:23PM (#12885673) Journal
    Microsoft has the right to restrict product updates to only their paying customers.

    However, the installed base is huge and the illegally installed base is also huge. Microsoft, because it is their OS, has a moral responsibility to prevent internet worms and viruses by releasing patches to all users, regardless of the legality of the installation.

    Can MS really be held at fault when illegal usage of the OS results in a huge failure of the Internet?
    • Can MS really be held at fault when illegal usage of the OS results in a huge failure of the Internet?

      I'll bite. Microsoft can only repair the vulnerabilities that they have been made aware of. If somebody uses a 0-day exploit to craft a worm, then I don't believe Microsoft can really be held accountable. That is like blaming the manufacturer of a safe for being susceptible to a heretofore undisclosed method of safe cracking.

      If it is a vulnerability that they've known about for months, however, not unlike many of those that affect Internet Explorer, then that should probably be considered a different story.

      Despite the accusations of trolling that you've received, however, I believe that you were right to distinguish an ethical responsibility from a legal one.
      • If somebody uses a 0-day exploit to craft a worm, then I don't believe Microsoft can really be held accountable.

        No, it would still depend on the obviousness of the exploit used.

        But if you use the definition of obviousness at use in the USPTO, Microsoft will still be safe from accountability.
        • No, it would still depend on the obviousness of the exploit used.

          I'm not a Microsoft apologist. I never deploy Windows. I despise many of their tactics. I prefer a Unix-based operating system.

          That said, let's face it: A 0-day exploit can affect any operating system, no matter how secure we might consider it. That includes every clone and variant of Unix available today.

          As a programmer, you can take every precaution and still encounter a blatantly obvious -- to your critics, at least -- compromise. Although it really isn't a valid comparison, I'll cite the design problem that was eventually fixed in our beloved PHP interpreter. The end-user was once allowed to manipulate server-side variables, and that was sometimes an absolute nightmare to work around.

          If such an obvious vulnerability were present in an ASP interpreter, we'd chuckle together and continue bashing the developers (developers, developers!) at Microsoft. I'll admit that it's often very funny to do so, but I'm ultimately afraid that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones -- even if our glass house is reinforced. ;-)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "If somebody uses a 0-day exploit to craft a worm, then I don't believe Microsoft can really be held accountable. That is like blaming the manufacturer of a safe for being susceptible to a heretofore undisclosed method of safe cracking."

        I agree with you in one way, and yet in another way, I'm compelled to disagree. No, I'm not a Linux fanboy/Microsoft hater/etc, but if something is insecure from the begining, then someone needs to take responsibility. Sure, they might not know about the exploit, but if o
    • However, the installed base is huge and the illegally installed base is also huge.

      I would rather say the [legal] install base is big, and illegally installed base is huge ;)

    • by rpozz ( 249652 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:40PM (#12885771)
      (Mods, that's not a troll, it's a decent point)

      You'd probably be quite surprised at the number of legal copies of Windows that are in use. Most people get it whether they like it or not with their new computer. People running 98/ME usually find that their computer is under-spec to run 2K/XP and simply buy a new one. It's mainly people who build their own computer (and thus should know what they are doing) who pirate Windows.

      You still raise a very interesting question there though. I would say that they should allow anyone to update, mainly because many updates to Windows are security fixes and zombie machines adversely affect other users, not just the owner.
    • Actually, given that all those patches and upgrades haven't even come close to eliminating malware, I'd say that free autoupdates aren't the issue. Foisting drain-bamaged operating system and applications software upon an unsuspecting populace is the real problem. Forget all this nonsense about "certifying" users to access the Internet and forcing ISPs to deal with malware ... let Windows get certified to be connected to the Internet. Governments all around the world have minimum safety standards that comme
    • > Microsoft has the right to restrict product
      > updates to only their paying customers.

      Not everywhere. I mean that I don't know where you live but in my place it may be different. Like OK I fully understand that MS want to restrict its product. But under my local law it has no authority to f.e. gather my data. I've bought their software - and this is OK. It is not OK from them to require ME to supply some additional data. When I bought Windows I read license and it said I would get updates for some pe
    • by linguae ( 763922 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @08:16PM (#12886246)
      Microsoft, because it is their OS, has a moral responsibility to prevent internet worms and viruses by releasing patches to all users, regardless of the legality of the installation.

      Microsoft has the right to refuse patches of their operating system to users who have illegally obtained the software. Why should Microsoft, or any other corporation, use its money and waste its time providing patches and other OS updates to people who have illegally obtained the OS? OS patches are a privilege, not a right.

      Don't get me wrong; I do not support MS's annoying activation and registration policies. However, why should people who have pirated Windows be able to expect support from Microsoft at all? And Microsoft can't do anything about Internet worms and viruses at all. Even though Windows isn't very secure (and its long overdue for a complete rewrite), Microsoft has no control over what other software people make. Windows, or any other operating system, can't prevent worms and viruses. Only users can prevent worms and viruses. In order to avoid Internet nasties, you either need to use a more secure operating system, a less popular operating system, or stick with Windows and become educated about viruses/worms/malware/etc.

      • ---Why should Microsoft, or any other corporation, use its money and waste its time providing patches and other OS updates to people who have illegally obtained the OS? OS patches are a privilege, not a right.

        They had better consider it a "privilege" that I pay for any product that they make. After all, the 2 computers that I bought pre-done had licenses that I COULD NOT REVOKE and get my money back. And there's something I heard about bundling being illegal... and something about being a convicted monopol
    • "Can MS really be held at fault when illegal usage of the OS results in a huge failure of the Internet?"

      Why not spread some of the blame to the hackers, crackers, and script kiddies?
  • by w98 ( 831730 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:25PM (#12885682) Homepage
    ... they want their copy protection scheme back.
    • I hear Longhorn comes with a serial port dongle and a cardboard code wheel.
  • by __aaahtg7394 ( 307602 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:32PM (#12885727)
    This was discovered by multiple people months ago, as evidenced by this full-disclosure thread [grok.org.uk], with a followup by another discoverer of the same exploit [grok.org.uk].
  • Oh no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:33PM (#12885734)
    DVD Jon has been out-sourced to India!
  • by Bifurcati ( 699683 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:35PM (#12885747) Homepage
    I wonder - if Microsoft were to post hacking requests/challenges/whatever of security measures like this before they were released commercially, and actually invite people to hack it, would hackers respond?

    I mean, I'm fairly certain they would try and hack it (it's there, after all...) but would they, in general, give the info to MS, or would they (out of altruism for future consumers, or just out of spite) keep their hacks to themselves so that they could be used effectively against the product.

    It just seems that these things are always cracked relatively quickly - couldn't microsoft somehow incorporate this into their pre-release coding cycle? I guess, though, they don't want to release their programs before they, er, release them.

    • I mean, I'm fairly certain they would try and hack it (it's there, after all...) but would they, in general, give the info to MS, or would they (out of altruism for future consumers, or just out of spite) keep their hacks to themselves so that they could be used effectively against the product.

      For every malicious hacker out there that would keep the info to themselves, there's at least one of comparable skill and slightly lesser maliciousness who would give the info to Microsoft for various reasons (al

    • I wonder - if Microsoft were to post hacking requests/challenges/whatever of security measures like this before they were released commercially, and actually invite people to hack it, would hackers respond?

      They do this already. They did it for Windows 2000 at the least. I think there was even a prize if you could do it. When the OS released it was "secure". It would take all of 5 minutes to root a win 2k box now but that is b/c these exploits are difficult to find. Finding them generally takes a lot
    • When it's being advertised as a hack-challenge, the incentive to disclose is greater, since there is a greater assumption that someone else is going to figure it out:

      If you disclose first, you receive praise and recognition. If you discover a hack but only disclose after someone else, you are deprived of this praise and recognition.

      If someone honestly believes no-one will figure out their clever hack before the product is released, there might be some incentive to holding onto it, for later malicious expl
  • legit user (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Demoknight ( 66150 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:37PM (#12885754) Journal
    ive used the program and put the little token into their site and it still wouldnt let me download something (cant remember what it was right now) so even with this crack or if youre legit you might still be out of luck :D
  • This sort of thing should be fatal for the argument that "if anyone can see the source, anyone can find exploits", but for now at least, Microsoft has the stronger orbital mind-control ray.
  • impenetrable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dioscaido ( 541037 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:42PM (#12885787)
    Where does that "impenetrable" quote come from? MS has pretty openly stated that they know that protection mechanisms like Activation can, and will, be cracked. They have been pretty clear that these mechanisms are in place more for the hobbyist or mom-and-pop user, than the people that would actively seek out cracks/pirate software.
  • Oh, oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by overshoot ( 39700 )
    Now piracy will flourish and Microsoft will have to raise their prices to stay in business.

    Just remember, anyone who pirates Microsoft software is raising your prices! Turn them in to the BSA today!

    /sarcasm>

  • Full-disclosure link (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#12885866)
    Go here [derkeiler.com] and download here [hackingspirits.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:57PM (#12885876)
    The entire purpose of Windows Genuine Advantage of Microsoft is to allow people to know they have actually recieved a Genuine product and not some product that has a key generated for it. If a person gets the product and installs it and then it fails the Windows Genuine Advantage they know they have paid for a pirated version and can then report that to the authorities. Your average home user is not going to install the OS and then run the crack, they want to know that they have a Genuine version (i.e. a genuine licence) that they have paid for. I know if I purchased another OS for the full price i.e. Mac OSX, I would be pissed if it was just a pirated version.
    • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:40PM (#12886101) Journal
      You're right.. and isn't that the problem? It seems like this vulnerability could be coded into a distribution. Someone illegally distributing Windows CDs can modify the copy so that it (unknown to the user) runs the crack, gets seemingly-legit codes, and uses these to "prove" that it is a genuine copy to the silly purchaser of the illegal product. So basically this undermines the whole point of the Windows Genuine Advantage. The user buys a CD of Windows, and even the windows website agrees that it is a genuine copy... but in fact the user was duped and bought a pirated copy. This lets the "bad guys" make money off of consumers... moreover it means that the "Windows Genuine" seal means nothing... worse, it provides people with a false sense of authentication.

      (or maybe there's something I don't understand about the whole process?)
  • It rejected the XP Home OEM key that came with my eMachine, purchased from CostCo.
  • Advantage: India
  • by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @07:12PM (#12885956) Journal
    it's a cat and mouse game, and frankly the hackers crack the encryption for the challenge of doing it, because frankly not everyone should have to pay the highway robbery price of windows... even bill gates can be quoted as saying 'software should be free' from back in the day when geeks traded puch tapes of code in the back of vans and copied them ;)

    copy protection is worthless, imo, windows would be better off just trying to convince people that piracy is bad, like the mpaa is trying to do with the ads at the front of dvds that can't be skipped... they'd be better off having an advertisment on the windows load screen and/or as the default screen saver than to put tons and tons of protection that will eventually be cracked for the challenge of it ;)

    Piracy is bad, but most of the people who resort to it, are desperate, a few are criminal, but most people aren't that bad. the worst are the crack addicts selling dvds/software on street corners to buy thier next hit... and frankly you don't have to be a crack addict to try that, if you need to have that 10 grand configuration of the dual g-5 2.7gh with 30" apple cinema display, and dual 400 GB hds, and 4 GB of ram... and don't have a job what better way than to sell pirated dvds/software on the street to score the cash without feeling really bad about yourself...

    Note: the rest of this post is rambling, and may be inchoerant, feel free to skip it, i only included it for the people who like reading my comments..

    Windows has a high price point, because they make a lot more money that way, eventually this will change, because really, you're paying for the 'value added' with commercially packaged software.. So really all microsoft is trying to do is protect the value they added to the basic functions of an os, but reguardless, all they need to do is make it hard enough, they don't need to stop everyone... they just need to be able to contain the flow of illegal copies because unlike apple, they're not a hardware company, all they do is write a complex piece of stoftware that is intended to run on virtually every POS baddly designed motherboard and chipset out there... apple, doesn't do that, they just write one for thier own hardware, which makes it a lot easier. but really, pirated copies of windows that are 'reasonably' difficult to get are no worse for windows than linux. If windows becomes too hard for some system builders to pirate, they will just install linux, and explain 'it's less prone to viruses than windows' they will be forced to switch to linux, and linux certified hardware, the better windows copy protection gets, the better it is for linux, frankly. not everyone needs a true gaming rig, and frankly a lot fo the people who have one probabbly are sleeping on a mattress someone threw away in the trash ;) linux has enough interesting games for the casual user, and firefox can be set up so web sites with games can be played too, which is what most casual users think of when they think of online gaming, they think og site like pogo or yahoo! games ;)

    okay i'm rambling sorry, but making the cracks too easy to get just helps windows market share... cracking the encryption to be the guy/gal who did it is fine, but if you want to help the case for linux you simply shouldn't make them easy to get ;) so really you're helping microsoft stay number 1 in install base, while eroding thier bottom line, by pirating windows. frankly right now their bottom line isn't hurting that bad... they're worried about it though, because they know the only thing that microsoft does is add value to the basic principals of writing an OS. if anyone can do this better than them (apple comes to mind, at least for retail prepackaged machines) but they can't touch the white box field, because it cost too much money and headaches to polish a piece of software as complex as windows that will run on almost any configuration of standard PC hardware. linux can only make so many inroads because frankly it's being written by geeks in thier spare time, and a few who work for companies and are told to 'maintain' linux for cred etc...
    • linux has enough interesting games for the casual user, and firefox can be set up so web sites with games can be played too, which is what most casual users think of when they think of online gaming, they think og site like pogo or yahoo! games ;)

      Let me first say that I don't play many games. I'll maybe play one-to-two a year- in the past 18 months need-for-speed:U2 and midnight-club:II. I'm a geek, but I'd say with the exception of SSH software, your typical knowledgeable user who does a some Web dev

  • For those of us who want to see the article, but don't have the ability to open Word documents,

    http://www.css-auth.com/gen_adv/ [css-auth.com]

    Although this being called a "crack" is laughable.
  • I don't use windows. What's a "Microsoft Genuine Advantage"?

    The article says it's an "anti-piracy program". That isn't very specific.
  • all this does is require you to generate a validation code on a pc running a legal copy of windows xp, then using that code on the illegal copy

    this wont help pirates who have no legal copy of xp
    • You don't generate a validation code.

      You put in your serial # when you install, then when you run windows for the first time, it connects to a Microsoft server and sends you computer configuration to MS. MS saves the config, and tells your local copy of Windows to stop asking for registration. And every time you try to get a patch, WIndows phones home to see if you're stilll running that copy of windows on the same setup. If not, you have to call tech support.

      I replaced my mobo, and later, when window
  • by ebooher ( 187230 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @08:13PM (#12886231) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I don't have a windows computer in my home. I am running several Macs, a Sparc and a Linux machine. The main reason all stems from Microsoft and the way they treat their paying customers like they are stealing something from them.

    A friend of mine bought a Gateway computer a couple of years ago with XP Home on it. After installing and uninstalling several pieces of software the system locked and he couldn't get it to "boot." So being the tech savvy friend in the industry he brings the PC to me.

    The system is asking for a Microsoft Authentication Code. Ok, whatever. Plug into the switch, get online, enter the Key Code, refuses my request for an Auth Code. *grumble* Call the number provided, get a wonderful automated system that doesn't let me speak to a human. Also refuses to give me an Auth Code. *more grumbling* Call Microsoft Support direct (the first number was given to me by XP when the code gen failed) speak to a human who verifies I have a valid Windows Key Code and then refuses to give me an Auth Code.

    Meh?

    She proceeds to inform me that as the code is an OEM code from Gateway that I have to call them. *sighs* Ok, I've been dealing with this a couple hours now, with hold times and all, but what the hey. Call Gateway, the representative though friendly, tells me very politely to go screw myself. Seems the system is now out of warranty period, plus since I'm not the actual owner of the system anyway they can not give me any assistance what so ever. Offers the helpful advice to give Microsoft a call.

    At this point I pull out an education bulk copy of XP Pro I happened to have purchased, and isn't running on anything else and install Pro in place of Home. Good thing about the bulk site keys, there are thousands of users with the same key legally and honestly. Kill the key and lots of very unhappy people.

    My Mac? Drop the CD/DVD in, hold down C, click install, and I'm done. Ahh .... simple. Linux? Same thing, boot the disc, walk through the install dialog, and we're happy. Debian based? apt-get upgrade the entire thing without even a CD. Heck, even Solaris installs and assumes it's legit and doesn't mind. (This was before the whole it's free for you and open now too thing)

    Yeah, Microsoft is only going to end up really annoying the hell out of it's legit users. Crackers and 1337 W@r3z P1r@t35 will never be more than mildly inconvenienced. If they are taking the time now to write programs that will let them keygen against binaries on the CD, then they are already spending the time trying to rip the thing off. The problem with a cat burglar is, no matter how many locks on the safe, if the Hope Diamond is inside, they are going to take the time they need to open it.

  • by tcc ( 140386 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @08:20PM (#12886270) Homepage Journal
    I wanted to install DirectX 9.0C on my laptop, and got hit by that. They've asked me to type in my product Key (which was UNDER my dhell laptop, attached to it was my external 80gb firewire drive and my 200GB USB2 drive, thank god it's not using a docking station, this would have required me to turn it off and then write it down then reboot than download, then reboot again...

    for god's sake what are they thinking? don't they get it? lot of people are buying software and use cracked version EXACTLY because of the fact that all legitimate software puts totally INSANE overhead that only irritates clients and in the end penalize them. And beleive me, they lose sales little by little because in the end it's less of a pain in the back to install cracked versions than upgrade with the re-registration, phone confirmation, yadi yada that without mentionning activations problems and all that stuff that people don't want to deal with especially after shelling out hundreds of dollars.

    You want people to stop pirating, EDUCATE them, irritating them will only do the exact opposite. When I was a kid, I had a VIC20 and a C64, EVERYTHING was copied because "stores selling games" what not a commodity like today, plus, at 11, you don't have that much money, and face it, piracy is what made the C64 such a hot seller. But later, I was educated once entering a specific field of interest (3d/video editing) by people on mailing lists and also local pros, and today I'm the one pushing people to buy software and support companies, especially when these companies puts out educational pricing or non-commercial licenses at very decent pricing. Its still easy to get pirated software, but when you are educated, you know what happens in the long run, or you know the potential legal implications it might get you into if positive reinforcement is not your thing :).

    Seriously, I just don't get it... if the goal is a clever way to reduce bandwidth costs on their server and outsource the stuff to pirate sites or torrents sites, well, hats off! but I doubt this would be the case.... man how pathetic can it get...

    • You want people to stop pirating, EDUCATE them, irritating them will only do the exact opposite.

      I agree, the problem of MS being pirated would be solved through educating customers. But it would be a solution that might leave MS very unhappy.

      Because the sad truth is that educated customers buy Macs or install Linux...

    • I so agree with you! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amichalo ( 132545 )
      lot of people are buying software and use cracked version EXACTLY because of the fact that all legitimate software puts totally INSANE overhead that only irritates clients and in the end penalize them.

      Fifteen years ago, when I was a kid and didn't have any money, I pirated software to have something useful to do with my computer. With the advent of Linux and having a job, I don't steal software any more. (And oddly, I find the software I do buy to be 21st century versions of the same software I used to st
  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @09:28PM (#12886567) Homepage
    I think a lot of people are missing the point of this. The original purpose, as I understand it, of the "Genuine Advantage" program was to allow users to verify that they had not been ripped off when buying a Winbox, i.e. that they'd actually received a validly licensed copy of Win. Why you would care was never adequately explained, but that's a side issue. But if you do care, then this would seem to be somewhat of an unfortunate development.

    Anyway, I would like to present my own "Debian Genuine Advantage" program that people can use to verify that their Debian-based systems are not pirated:
    #!/bin/sh
    echo "This system is not \"pirated\"."
    Adapting this system for using on other flavors of Linux is left as an exercise for the student. :)
  • by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @10:15PM (#12886771) Homepage
    ...and my workstation is set to retreive its patches from it, rather than M$'s site?

    Currently it contains 1.6GB of what appears to be every M$ update known to man, (including a bunch of crap that I didn't really want, but hey...hard drives are cheap) and they're all .exe files. ...which leads me to another point: Once the updates are in the wild, they WILL get passed around, and there's nothing M$ can do about it.
  • by Ponzicar ( 861589 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @10:58PM (#12886922)
    I just heard that Microsoft has announced the creation of a new program, called "Consumer Protection Genuine Advantage Validator". In the near future users will have to have their activeX Genuine Advantage software confirmed to be valid and unpirated before it will let them confirm their windows installation as valid and unpirated.

What is now proved was once only imagin'd. -- William Blake

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