Windows XP FireWire Attack Also Defeats Windows Vista - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
04:32 PM
Connect Directly
How Upwork Cut Zero-Day File Attacks by 70%
Oct 05, 2017
Upwork has millions of clients and freelancers that have to upload and download many files to and ...Read More>>

Windows XP FireWire Attack Also Defeats Windows Vista

Microsoft may not address the "winlockpwn" authentication bypass issue because it's not technically a vulnerability, researchers said.

A two-year old authentication bypass technique that received wide attention earlier this week as a means to get around Windows XP password protection also works on Windows Vista, a report released on Wednesday reveals.

On Monday, New Zealand-based security researcher Adam Boileau released "winlockpwn," software for bypassing Windows XP SP2 authentication using a Linux PC connected via FireWire to a target Windows PC. He also explained that the technique works against computers running Linux, Mac OS X, and BSD Unix.

On his Web site, Boileau said Microsoft doesn't consider the attack a legitimate security vulnerability. Indeed, as Microsoft points out in the third of its 10 Immutable Laws of Security, "If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it's not your computer anymore."

Two weeks ago, researchers from Princeton University, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Wind River Systems reaffirmed this proposition when they released details about how encryption keys for disk-based encryption systems could be recovered more easily by chilling a computer's memory chips.

Peter Panholzer of SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab, based in Vienna, Austria, said in a paper released on Wednesday that his company has demonstrated a proof-of-concept attack on Windows Vista using its own Vista unlock tool.

"In short, our Vista unlock tool uses signature matching to find the respective binary code in the target node's memory (the same method is used in winlockpwn)," Panholzer explained. "The process of searching the pattern and manipulating the DLL code in memory takes a few seconds up to a few minutes. After the patch has been applied, any username and password can be specified at the login prompt for a successful login."

Panholzer doubts Microsoft will address the issue of FireWire authentication bypass because it's not technically a vulnerability; rather he said it's the way the protocol is designed.

"The only known effective way of protecting against the FireWire attack is to deactivate all FireWire and PC Card ports in the device manager," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
The DevOps movement brings application development and infrastructure operations together to increase efficiency and deploy applications more quickly. But embracing DevOps means making significant cultural, organizational, and technological changes. This research report will examine how and why IT organizations are adopting DevOps methodologies, the effects on their staff and processes, and the tools they are utilizing for the best results.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll