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Vista activation cracked by brute force

Sledgehammered
Thu Mar 01 2007, 17:15
IT LOOKS LIKE Microsoft's unhackable OS activation malware has been hacked.

There is an active thread at the Keznews forums (account needed), and a summary on its main page about the crack.

It is a simple brute force attack, dumb as a rock that just tries keys. If it gets one, you manually have to check it and try activation. Is is ugly, takes hours, is far from point and click, but it is said to work. I don't have any Vista installs because of the anti-user licensing so I have not tested it personally.

The method of attack has got to be quite troubling for MS on many grounds. The crack is a glorified guesser, and with the speed of modern PCs and the number of outstanding keys, the 25-digit serials are within range. The biggest problem for MS? If this gets widespread, and I hope it will, people will start activating legit keys that are owned by other people

It won't take long for boxes bought at retail to be activated before they are bought, and the people who plunk down money for the mal^h^h^hsoftware for real get 'you are a filthy pirate' messages. Won't that be a laugh riot at the MS phone banks in Bangalore.

So, what do you do? There is really no differentiating between a legit copy with a manually typed in wrong key and a hack attempt. Sure MS can throttle this by limiting key attempts to one a minute or so on new software, but the older variants are already burnt to disk. The cat is out of the bag.

The code is floating, the method is known, and there is nothing MS can do at this point other than suck it down and prepare for the problems this causes. To make matters worse, MS will have to decide if it is worth it to allow people to take back legit keys that have been hijacked, or tell customers to go away, we have your money already, read your license agreement and get bent, we owe you nothing.

This is ugly for MS, and if it allows you to take back your legit keys, how long do you think it will take before people catch on to the fact that you can call in and hijack already purchased keys once you generate one that someone else activated?

No, this is a mess, and the problem is the very malware activation and anti-consumer licensing that MS built into Vista. Then again, it is kind of hard to feel sorry for them the way they screw their paying customers. We'll give it three days before there is a slick GUI version with all the bells and whistles. µ

 

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