Home page logo

basics logo Security Basics mailing list archives

Re: locked out of XP, need file access
From: JGrimshaw () ASAP com
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 12:41:47 -0600

Security through obscurity is not the solution I was soliciting from the 

The individual in question openly stated that he did not want to read 
1000s of a pages for an answer, and requested a quick answer.  A simple 
search engine query, as many people suggested, would have yielded a 
less-than-1000-page result.  You offered to help him in exchange for a 
personal email--is that security through obscurity, so that no one else 
would know?  And your email address is a hotmail address--is that not a 
personal address?  It is certainly not business related.  And your 
presented name of "..."?  Is this not obscured?  I am not pointing this 
out as an attack; I am demonstrating that you are exercising evasion when 
you told us that the information is out there anyway.

We all know data is out there.  A number of list members replied to me and 
said that lock-picking data was out there--the thief would get it anyway. 
And I am sure there are plans to make a number of appropriate, 
inappropriate, and questionable alternatives, along with any matter of 
information out on the Internet.  But he did not want to read 1000 pages 
of hits.  The example of the car thief was taken out of proportion by 
some--Yes the data is out there.  However, unless he has wireless internet 
access and the means to use the information he found, provided he took the 
time to read it while standing outside, it is unlikely that he could 
search the internet efficiently while targeting the car of choice.  The 
crime of opportunity has passed from the lack of opportunity.  Conversely, 
he could also use a blunt object and just smash the window to get in. This 
wouldn't require any extensive searching, other than for a rock.  But 
would you give our theoretical intrepid footpad the idea to do this?  Or 
hand him a rock?  Probably not.

My intent was to alert people, if not exactly to alarm them.  People are 
helpful; that is not a bad thing.  (This can easily break down into a 
philosophical discussion that escapes the bounds of this forum; I do not 
wish to lead us down that path.)  My point is that just because there is 
something out there, does not mean we have to present it to whomever asks 
because they will find it anyway.  Just because the man doesn't have his 
keys does not mean we should smash the window for him, or point out the 
rocks he can use.  You are correct--the information is out there.  He 
might come back later with a rock.  He might come back with a skilled 
friend, or skilled himself; he might even come back with a locksmith 
because, hey, it really IS his car.

I am not asking everyone to deny information, either, or hold back because 
they are overly suspicious.  That would be pointless and is out of focus 
for this mailing list.  But a "Hi, I do not know please tell me how" 
post... couldn't they search first?   Couldn't they say what they have 
tried?  What failed so far?   Maybe some background on what caused it? 
(this is not entirely in relation to the post I originally referenced--I 
am sure that one can come up with a few posts that are lacking in detail) 
Many people here do post great questions--and provides for great archive 
material for scenarios and solutions.  Questions akin to "How do I 0wn my 
b0x" does not seem to apply in the professional business sense, however, 
and I believe that a professional business sense is the objective that 
this list is trying to achieve.


". ." <miklohnews () hotmail com> 
12/29/2003 05:08 PM

security-basics () securityfocus com

Re: locked out of XP, need file access

I agree, all valid points. However

- i went overseas for a few months and came back only to find myself 
forgotten the admin password to both my w2k machines at home. I thought i 
remembered it, and was surprised when my machines didnt wanna accept what 
typed in at all! hmmm... must've changed them right before i left. ;)
- as u can see by the replies to this question, the information is 
defenitely out there anyway, whether u find it urself (google) or ask like 

this in a formum, so no point in trying to hide it.
- to hide information like this may lead to a false sense of security. 
someone not knowing how easy it is to crack a system may feel that they're 

all secure since they have a password setup. security by obscurity is the 
term i think.

i think it's more up to the local administrators to try to keep a close 
on people in his/her area. on a forum like this, hey, what can i do anyway 

if someone on the other side of the world wants to break into some system 
(maybe mine!! oops...)? i look after my things and hope that someone wont 
able to break into my machines. hopefully, if this guy doesnt have 
legitimate reasons to reset the password, his local admin doesn't allow 
physical access to this machine. but on the other hand, as u or someone 
said, he may have physical access if it's the neighbour machine in his 
office. ah well. my point is that the info is out there, u can always find 

out, so no real point in trying to hide things.

From: JGrimshaw () ASAP com
CC: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: locked out of XP, need file access
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 11:05:32 -0600

To preface, I apologize if I am wrong.  I also expect to be bashed for
being harsh, but sometimes reality stings.

A question that I have, is that if the box is his, and those files are 
(and are important), how did he suddenly just "forget" the admin 
 What has he been using to log in on a daily basis?  Why isn't the
password for this box the same as the other local admin passwords on the
network?  Why is he administrating an XP box and then throwing up
comparisons to Windows 98 PWL files?  Why not connect to the network and
log on with domain administrator rights?  If he does not have the access,
why not call their helpdesk and have one of the administrators do this?

While I agree that sharing of wisdom is vital to the growth of this
mailing list, the temperance of such wisdom should be considered.  I
shared this email with my co-workers, and we all thought a laptop fell 
of the back of a truck into the requestor's lap.

Perhaps it is because I do not trust email's originating from a hotmail
address asking for a hack.   Anyone can get a hotmail address with any
information provided.  Nigerian officials offering me vast rewards have
emailed me from Hotmail.  If this was a legitimate request, why not post
it from his place of business?   It looks like to me that someone saw
something he wanted on someone else's computer, and from looking over the
shoulder, caught a few characters of the password.  The person has
physical access to the box, and now wants the data but doesn't know how 
get it without a script being handed to him.  Perhaps this is paranoid,
but this is SECURITY we are talking about.

Responding in the positive to his request akin to offering a burglar a 
of lockpicks and detailed picking instructions because he "lost" his keys
to his car.  I am under the impression that giving a wink, a nod, and
looking the other way... is not the appropriate approach to this sort of
request.  You tell the person to find a locksmith to get into their car,
or offer to call the police for him.  You aren't supposed to provide
locksmithing instructions when you don't even know the car is his.

This is nothing more then social engineering.  How would any of you react
if you received a call from a user in your business asking how to crack
the admin password on their machine?  Would you tell that user?  You just


If you does not encrypt files, then the simplest way is to connest your
to another computer with w2k or XP and copy that files. You must to know
admin password on that Box.

----- Original Message -----
From: "J. Yoon" <supercool9000 () hotmail com>
To: <security-basics () securityfocus com>
Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 6:45 PM
Subject: locked out of XP, need file access

I'm locked out of my own Windows XP box.
Being a paranoid,
I have not provided myself with any password hints
even for the administrator mode.

I do remember about 2 characters from it though
but there's just too many combinations.

There are personal files in there that I need to access.

I remember that with the old Win98,
it was possible to do something with the .pwd file
(not that we needed it,
since all the files are accessible anyway)
but I'm sure things have changed significantly since.

I did infact try using a XP password recovery tool kit
and global-resetter thing I got from the net...
but the software asks me to enter root password
and then tells me to get lost.
It's strange and ironic,
because the passwd is precisely what I'm trying to figure out.

I don't wanna read a 1,000 page book just yet
cuz I need access to my files asap.

What would be some of the necessary simple steps to take at this time?
Thanks in advance...

Expand your wine savvy ? and get some great new recipes ? at MSN Wine.




Hot chart ringtones and polyphonics. Go to 



  By Date           By Thread  

Current thread:
[ Nmap | Sec Tools | Mailing Lists | Site News | About/Contact | Advertising | Privacy ]