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Activating Vista Enterprise Using a Spoofed Server 291

Posted by Zonk
from the so-close dept.
Ruvim writes "It has been mentioned in previous Slashdot discussions as possibility, and now it became a reality: Information Week reports that a spoofed server has been released that can be used to activate Microsoft's Vista Enterprise versions. It is being made available on several pirate Web sites and spoofs a Key Management Service server, used to activate a large number of copies of Windows Vista in enterprise environments." From the article: "Vista is the first version of Windows that Microsoft requires volume license customers to activate. Besides KMS, the Redmond, Wash. developer also offers Multiple Activation Key, which resembles the retail version's activation process. PCs activated using KMS must reactivate at least once every six months. The MelindaGates hack uses a VMware image of a KMS server to activate -- and keep activated -- a pirated edition of Windows Vista Business. 'Looks like Windows Vista Volume Activation 2.0 is a big bust,' wrote a user identified as 'clank' on the PirateBay Web site Friday. "
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Activating Vista Enterprise Using a Spoofed Server

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:41PM (#17168918) Homepage Journal
    In Mysterious Future, Vista Activation Spoofs You!
  • yep (Score:5, Informative)

    by User 956 (568564) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:46PM (#17168980) Homepage
    Information Week reports that a spoofed server has been released that can be used to activate Microsoft's Vista Enterprise versions.

    And you don't even need a separate computer. You can spoof the activation from the same machine.
    • by mr_luc (413048) *
      Even better is that the torrent tracker referred to is The Pirate Bay -- who mocked microsoft's legal threats, resulting in Microsoft appearing to pull strings that lead to an unprecedented, although ultimately unsuccessful, raid on their servers.

      So, when the first hacks for Vista start popping up, it's nice to know that I can rely on The Pirate Bay to host those .torrents for me!
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday December 08, 2006 @09:38PM (#17169896)
        Even better is that the torrent tracker referred to is The Pirate Bay -- who mocked microsoft's legal threats, resulting in Microsoft appearing to pull strings that lead to an unprecedented, although ultimately unsuccessful, raid on their servers.

        It is commonly believed that the MPAA, not Microsoft, was responsible for the US State Department leaning on the right local ministers to get the Pirate Bay raided. For one thing, the MPAA prematurely ejaculated a press-release congratulating themselves for getting the Pirate Bay shut down, while Microsoft was mum on the event.
    • by msobkow (48369) on Friday December 08, 2006 @09:50PM (#17169982) Homepage Journal

      The DRM module doesn't block unsigned drivers, allowing injection of attack code.

      The license module has been spoofed, which means it's not protecting Microsoft's revenue.

      Does Vista protect anything other than media restrictions imposed by producers?

  • Short on details (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weave (48069) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:46PM (#17168984) Journal

    Sounds like someone just stole a vmware image from their work that is set up as a kms (many sites are just plugging their KMS in as a vmware guest to get going).

    I'm sure that Microsoft must have thought of that as a possibility. Since a unique product key is required to activate a KMS, why can't Microsoft just deactivate that compromised KMS key?

    • OK... vmware runs upon another OS. Say... linux.

      I now route all packets to null and whitelist what I want to allow. Problem solved.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:58PM (#17169126)
      I'm sure that Microsoft must have thought of that as a possibility.


      And you came into this conclusion because... Microsoft has such a good track record in security?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And you came into this conclusion because... Microsoft has such a good track record in security?

        The only good MS security track record is in copy protection.

        To get MS terminal server licenses activated you have to jump through many hoops - it's extremely annoying. On the other hand, I've never heard of any hacks for it.
        • It has been a long time since I administered a terminal server but I'm pretty sure it was based on the honour system. i.e. "please enter the number of licences you have purchased: ____"
        • Re:Short on details (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Amouth (879122) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:44PM (#17170342)
          There where ways.. it wasn't that hard.. in fact it was really easy to have the connecting client clear it's temp key so that every computer connecting everytime would appear to terminal server as a new cient and would issue a 30 day key.. and everytime they connected it gave them a new one.. and after 90 days the terminal server would drop the non active temp key.

          or the better way was to manual configure the registry and get terminal server to run under internet connector license..

          while it took some work it wasn't that bad once you figure it out.
        • Terminal Services licensing is pretty easy to bypass, which is good because my customers have a bad habit of losing the license keys that they paid for. Windows 2000 works on the honor system, so that's a non-issue. For Windows Server 2003, just set the terminal server to check users instead of machines, since user licenses are not tracked.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:24PM (#17169390)
      That's assuming the information somehow escapes because pirates are mass distributing keys and other information. On the other hand, legitimate purchasers of Vista may want to do their own "home-grown validation" in order to get a product that:
      A) doesn't phone home to MS on a regular basis
      B) dosen't need to re-validate on a regular basis and break if it doesn't
      C) doesn't throw a hissy fit if they do too many hardware upgrades, and,
      D) continues to work the way the product SHOULD work when they are actually legitimate customers, despite whatever bugs may exist in the validation software.

      In other words, people with legitimate licenses may want to circumvent for the purposes of yielding a more reliable system without this superfluous "feature", in which case they don't have to use or expose the existence of technically illegitimate keys. They can just block anything involved with validation to/from Microsoft at the router, in which case MS can deactivate the key all they like, but the spoofed system won't see it if it is only talking to the fake key server.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Sancho (17056)
        A) doesn't phone home to MS on a regular basis

        I've never read anything that implied this was the case for OEM/OTS versions. Got a citation?

        B) dosen't need to re-validate on a regular basis and break if it doesn't

        I haven't read anything about this, either, except for the typical WGA stuff. Is there any evidence that business customers don't have to run WGA stuff to apply updates?

        C) doesn't throw a hissy fit if they do too many hardware upgrades, and,

        I thought Microsoft caved on this one.

        D) continues to wor
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)

      I'm sure that Microsoft must have thought of that as a possibility. Since a unique product key is required to activate a KMS, why can't Microsoft just deactivate that compromised KMS key?

      If YOU were a pirate, would YOU download an update which adds this "functionality"?

  • by jfclavette (961511) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:47PM (#17169004)
    Vista Business and friends are the most likely to be cracked due to volume licensing. However, features are removed in a way that it is advantageous to businesses but turn away most home users. It'll be interesting to see how that works out.
  • by robvangelder (472838) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:49PM (#17169034)
    The prize being to 0wn the Microsoft security mechanisms, but more-so to do it before rival warez groups.

    The warez groups aren't so much competing against Microsoft, but amongst themselves - for the sheer status of it.
  • by nra1871 (836627) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:49PM (#17169036)
    Interesting...our network is completely self contained and does not touch the internet at all. I wonder how this will work for networks like mine (no plans to upgrade anytime in the near future, and since we use the workstations to run Citrix-based apps, it doesn't matter what OS we use.)
  • Not really new. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is exactly how cracks for flexlm based products (Maya, ArcGIS) work as well.
  • Just Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iriestx (1033648) on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:54PM (#17169082) Journal
    Honestly, I'm going to laugh my ass off 6 months down the road when MS pushes out a mandatory WGA update, disguised as another 'critical update,' that nukes pirated installs. All these scam cracked/KMS/pirated Vista copies are going to lock-up, shut down and only be able to do one thing, display the phone number to call MS to purchase a legitimate key. Pirates have gotten by the initial flaws in the authentication system. Microsoft is going to change it, and quietly force everybody to reactivate from a legitimate source. Just wait... it's coming. If you really need a free, modern OS, rather than run something that clings to functionality through hacks, cheats, cracks and work-arounds, why not just bite the bullet and download a good desktop Linux distro? It's free. It's arguably more capable than Vista. How/where/when you play your media isn't decided by the AAs and to top it all off, you don't have to hack/crack/scam to get it to run.
    • Re:Just Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ZDRuX (1010435) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:59PM (#17169142)

      ...why not just bite the bullet and download a good desktop Linux distro? It's free. It's arguably more capable than Vista.


      Because Linux does not run Everquest and 99% of the other games I like to play on a regular basis. So as far as a "Conveninent home OS that everybody can use" - Windows is still king regardless of what everybody says.
      If I had the luxury of having 2 or 3 system in my house, then I would be running Windows for the family, and Linux on the other 2 for myself, but untill the time comes when Linux can have the type of compatibility with the every-day apps that Microsoft provides, I don't think my family would appreciate me switching over to Linux. And that I think, is the main reason why Linux is still not on the majority of people's computers.
      • Could you set it up to dual boot? I did that to my laptop yesterday, and it was my first experience with Linux. I can now use windows for playing several games, and linux when I feel the need. *I* haven't noticed any problems, but if you don't have 50GB of free space (like I did) it might not be an option. Consider extra space the next time you buy a computer, and during set up go ahead and partition it... you can always undo it later if you decide to give up on Linux.
    • Re:Just Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:16PM (#17169330)

      Honestly, I'm going to laugh my ass off 6 months down the road when MS pushes out a mandatory WGA update, disguised as another 'critical update,' that nukes pirated installs.


      Me too. But I'm going to DIE laughing when it turns out they nuked thousands of legit copies along with the pirate copies.

      I don't object to paying for software, but there is no way in hell I'm going to put up with the vista activation bullshit.

      Fooled me once (XP) shame on you. Fooled me twice (and tied me up and kicked me a few times (Vista)) shame on me.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      nope. just spoof what the OS is looking for.
      Or find the area in hex and insert a jump pass the MS activation lookup.

    • Re:Just Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BeanBunny (936648) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:52PM (#17169586)
      Well, I was with you until you started gushing over Linux. Don't get me wrong, I like Linux too, but I yearn for the day that people don't end a comment about Microsoft with, "Why don't you just run Linux? It's so great!" That may be true, but this is Slashdot - we know that already!
    • by jasen666 (88727)
      Anyone with half a brain and a cracked Windows install disables WGA first thing anyway. Thus rendering your "mandatory" update, not so mandatory.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Hehe, was that post an attempt at "recruitment by fear"? ;-)
    • by jonwil (467024)
      Pirates will either not install the "manditory patch" or will wait for the hackers to obtain it and remove the disabling functionality.
  • Link to the torrent. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jZnat (793348) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @07:59PM (#17169152) Homepage Journal
    Brought to you by The Pirate Bay [thepiratebay.org] as usual. :)
    • by crossmr (957846)
      You only need to include the torrent for the version of Vista that works best with this as well ;)
    • by Firehed (942385) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:02PM (#17170448) Homepage
      Something tells me this would have been one of those occasions where posting as an AC would have been a wise choice. Personally, I don't find a bit of Slashdot karma worth having the Long Baton of Microsoft forcefully inserted into an exit-only part of my body.

      But, your call. I thought it was easy enough to find just by going to the top of the Top 100 list for Windows software at TPB ;)
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:03PM (#17169190)
    Let's hope that Microsoft fixes this problem very quickly. It is important that all Microsoft users pay every last penny for their habit.
  • by Stumbles (602007) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:07PM (#17169226)
    This is just another reason why anything dealing with software activation, DRM and it's ilk is a colossal waste of time and money.
  • by toby (759) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:07PM (#17169234) Homepage Journal

    ...Why anyone would run their business (or hobby) on a system that is subject to DeActivation.

    Defective by Design, indeed. [cincomsmalltalk.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by istartedi (132515)

      Why anyone would run their business (or hobby) on a system that is subject to DeActivation

      Hold on... Before we answer that we need to upload some more pictures to flickr.com. Then we need to update our blogs on MySpace and reply to some contact invites on LinkedIn.

      And yes, an unfavorable change in the ToS on these sites is not as bad as deactivation. A complete loss of service appears unlikely at this stage; but you never know what might change. The bottom line? Unless you control your data, and s

      • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
        Flickr and MySpace are opening new avenues to business. Those ways of getting customers were not there before. It's like mana from heaven.

        However, for a company to place an OS on the desktop of every individual, they need to ensure the new system is better than the last.

        The first company to lose a day of work because of deactivation will be the nail in WGAs coffin. Either MS will release an anti-WGA patch, or everyone will go back to Win2k.
    • What else will run the software and hardware the business needs?
    • I've been saying this since Microsoft first started using activation: As an anti-piracy technique, it doesn't really work. If there's a chink in the activation-scheme's armor, pirates will find it, and you'll still see pirated versions of the OS all over the place. The people this really hurts is Microsoft's legitimate customers, who certainly bought Windows anyway because it came with their fracking machine. They should finally just cut this crap out, and focus on helping their customers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wyohman (737898)
      I think one of the biggest issues is the lack of media rejection. Back in the 80s when copy protection became rampant, the computer media (Byte, Computer Shopper, PC Mag, PC Week) led a concerted effort to educate users and rejected copy protection. Now it seems the old computer journalists have given up or become irrelevant (*cough* Dvorak *cough*).

      Cheers.
  • by mrpaco18 (958815) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:07PM (#17169236)
    It was inevitable that Vista Enterprise would be cracked in some way. Every version of Windows has been. In fact, I can't think of a single large-scale (scale as in cost) software that has not been cracked. No matter what any software vendor does, the dedicated pirates will always be one step ahead. Measures like product activation are only to stop widespread casual piracy, not piracy in its entirety.
    • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:22PM (#17169376)
      Which is good enough. If Joe 6pack has to jump through hoops to pirate, he might just buy the product. Even better, Joe 12pack (twice as smart) might even be more wary of searching sites because of a legitimate fear of fake pirate sites that have viruses.

      In games this is even more prevalent - the goal of fighting piracy isn't to prevent the inevetable - somewhere somebody has enough spare time to crack your stuff, but to _delay_ it. If Johnny 6cola can't get his game right away, then he might have to suck it up and buy it. The most sucessful ones have locked out pirates for 30 days or so. If you've been waiting for months for a game, waiting another month might not be an option. (Some of those might be from pirates distributing a game which still has parts of it not working and crashes half way through - even better for publishers). Obviously this is unique to games, as other software publishers want to keep people out for good.
      • by Esteanil (710082) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:21PM (#17170210) Homepage Journal
        Actually, these days you're more likely to catch malware off of legitimate purchases (CDs, games containing StarForce, etc) than off a decent pirate site. (Torrent sites in particular tend to kill off torrents containing malware).

        Isn't it ironic?
      • by smash (1351) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:29AM (#17172026) Homepage Journal
        Which is good enough. If Joe 6pack has to jump through hoops to pirate, he might just buy the product

        On the contrary, if "joe sixpack" has to jump through hoops to run his legitimately purchased product, perhaps he won't bother.

        I'm fully prepared to pay for an O/S (have purchased several variants of Linux, previous microsoft O/S, etc) however i'm not willing deal with an O/S that constantly phones home to verify that I am allowed to run it.

        Paying for a product is supposed to be less painful than simply running the pirate version, not the reverse...

  • by ImaNihilist (889325) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:23PM (#17169382)
    Inconceivable!
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday December 08, 2006 @08:27PM (#17169410) Journal
    An interesting twist from this is that the most feature-rich Vista Ultimate Edition may not be the most warezed one after all. Because these aren't supporting KMS activation, unlike Enterprise and Business who were both intended for this use. However, for a pirate, that may not matter much, as the benefits of Vista Home Basic/Ultimate (= home/entertainment-oriented software) is probably quite easily outweighed by already available software, often free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
      An interesting twist from this is that the most feature-rich Vista Ultimate Edition may not be the most warezed one after all. Because these aren't supporting KMS activation, unlike Enterprise and Business who were both intended for this use.

      Somebody will probably figure out how to drop the right DLLs from the Enterprise edition into any other edition to make it do KMS.
  • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Friday December 08, 2006 @09:19PM (#17169766) Journal
    Microsoft.Windows.Vista.Local.Activation.Server-Me lindaGates.torrent

    unlike windows xp and volume activation 1.0 windows vista doesnt have any corporate
    keys which will permanently activate it. volume activation 2.0 requires a corporate
    user to either do a one time activation through microsoft servers (mak) or companies
    can host a local activation server which does not talk to microsoft (kms). the only
    difference is kms requires re-activation once every 180 days. however as long as
    theres a local kms server its simple to keep windows activated. this release is a
    vmware image of a permanently activated kms server which allows local activation of
    windows vista business/enterprise edition. volume activation 2.0 is only built into
    those two editions.

    install vista business/enterprise edition with the key [removed, check .nfo].

    using the latest vmware workstation, boot the image. disable vmware firewall.

    on the non vm vista right click the command prompt icon and run as admin. type ...

    cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -skms vm_vista_ip

    cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato

    windows should now be activated.

    to check activation status type ...

    cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -dlv

    tested using echos windows vista enterprise and vmware workstation 5.5.3 but seems to
    have issues with the billgates windows vista business.
    • by nachoboy (107025) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:26PM (#17170576)
      The part they don't mention is that the activation server only hands out activations on networks with 25+ computers. The machine may be permanently activated, but after 180 days, if you don't have 25 unique machines (and no, virtual machines can be detected and don't count), the activation server will deny your request to reactivate.

      That doesn't preclude from downloading another pre-activated KMS Server, but this isn't really a permanent solution.
  • by XoXus (12014) on Friday December 08, 2006 @09:19PM (#17169770)
    The "MelindaGates" hack? Is that because people are getting sick of being screwed by Bill?
    • I love the name. The irony of Melinda and Bill Gates and their charitable ways vs Microsoft and their overpriced DRM anti consumer rights OS.

  • But..but..but..I thought Vista was unhackable!

    Trust your feelings. You know this to be true.
  • While this may bypass activation, which is the Big Thing, what about WGA?

    I'm only aware of cracks for XP so far, but maybe these work for Vista as well?

    The thing is that MS has ramped up the effects from WGA authenticity failure a lot in Vista to make it hardly usable, contrary to before when you'd just miss out on a few extras from Microsoft Update.
  • you would swear it must be open source?

    Why would any government agency, or anyone else, pay for this? There seems to be absolutely NO security... why pay, you get as good or better for free with F/OSS... wow
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *
      There seems to be absolutely NO security...

      On the contrary, there is negative security! Since you can't see the source code, there's no way to be certain that Microsoft itself (or a rogue programmer working there) hasn't put in any kind of backdoors or spyware or such. In a sane world, everyone including government agencies would realize that closed-source software like Windows can only be a liability.

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