The Hack FAQ

18.0 NT Misc. Attack Info

This section has miscellaneous information regarding hacking and NT.

18.1 How is file and directory security enforced?

Since files and directories are considered objects (same as services), the security is managed at an "object" level.

An access-control list (ACL) contains information that controls access to an object or controls auditing of attempts to access an object. It begins with a header contains information pertaining to the entire ACL, including the revision level, the size of the ACL, and the number of access-control entries (ACEs) in the list.

After the header is a list of ACEs. Each ACE specifies a trustee, a set of access rights, and flags that dictate whether the access rights are allowed, denied, or audited for the trustee. A trustee can be a user account, group account, or a logon account for a service program.

A security descriptor can contain two types of ACLs: a discretionary ACL (DACL) and a system ACL (SACL).

In a DACL, each ACE specifies the types of access that are allowed or denied for a specified trustee. An object's owner controls the information in the object's DACL. For example, the owner of a file can use a DACL to control which users can have access to the file, and which users are denied access.

If the security descriptor for an object does not have a DACL, the object is not protected and the system allows all attempts to access the object. However, if an object has a DACL that contains no ACEs, the DACL does not grant any access rights. In this case, the system denies all attempts to access the object.

In a SACL, each ACE specifies the types of access attempts by a specified trustee that cause the system to generate audit records in the system event log. A system administrator controls the information in the object's SACL. An ACE in a SACL can generate audit records when an access attempt fails, when it succeeds, or both.

To keep track of the individual object, a Security Identifier (SID) uniquely identify a user or a group.

A SID contains:

A privilege is used to control access to a service or object more strictly than is normal with discretionary access control. Privileges provide access to services rarely needed by most users. For example, one type of privilege might give access for backups and restorals, another might allow the system time to be changed.

18.2 What is NTFS?

NTFS is the Windows NT special file system. This file system is tightly integrated into Windows security -- it is what allows access levels to be set from the directory down to individual files within a directory.

18.3 Are there are vulnerabilities to NTFS and access controls?

Not so much vulnerabilities as there are quirks -- quirks that can be exploited to a certain degree.

For example, let's say the system admin has built a home directory for you on the server, but has disallowed the construction of directories or files that you wish to make available to the group Everyone. You are wanting to make this special directory so that you can easily retrieve some hack tools but you are cut off. However, if the sys admin left you as the owner of the home directory, you can go in and alter its permissions. This is because as long as you are the owner or Administrator you still control the file. Oh sure, you may get a few complaints from the system when you are doing it, but it can be done.

Since NTFS has security integrated into it, there are not too many ways around it. The main one requires access to the physical system. Boot up the system on a DOS diskette, and use NTFSDOS.EXE. It will allow you to access an NTFS volume bypassing security.

The last quirk is that if you have a directory with Full Control instead of RWXDPO permissions, then you get a hidden permission called File Delete Child. FDC cannot be removed. This means that all members of the group Everyone can delete any read-only file in the directory. Depending on what the directory contains, a hacker can replace a file with a trojan.

18.4 What is Samba and why is it important?

Samba is a freeware app developed by Andy Tridgell. It is a great tool for helping integrate Unix into Microsoft Windows and Lan Manager environments. The main idea is that you can, with Samba, allow a Unix machine to access file and directories. The other handy thing about Samba is that like most Unix freeware you get the source code.

Most hackers seem to have Linux up and running, so loading up Samba allows you several tactical advantages. A number of the exploits described here require access to a privileged port (< 1024). If you are root on your own Linux box, you can start exploits from those needed ports. A lot of the tests in the NMRC lab were conducted using Samba. In fact when World Star Holdings Ltd in Canada had their lame Cybertest '96 contest on June 12th, yours truly used Samba to break in (but I wasn't first).

Samba talks SMB and can directly access Windows NT hardware, and Hobbit ( has put together a very interesting paper entitled "CIFS: Common Insecurities Fail Scrutiny". It is highly recommended reading for admins and hackers alike. Included in the paper are details and source patches to allow easier attacking on NT.

Studying the source code of Samba taught me a lot, but Hobbit's paper puts everything in a whole new light. It provides some well documented basics on how a lot of the communications work, detailing exactly WHY certain protocols and behaviours are vulnerable to abuse.

Get Samba and read its documentation. Read Hobbit's paper and apply the patches. Period.

18.5 How do I bypass the screen saver?

If a user has locked their local workstation using CTRL+ALT+DEL, and you can log in as an administrator, you will have a window of a few seconds where you will see the user's desktop, and even manipulate things. This trick works on NT 3.5 and 3.51, unless the latest service pack has been loaded.

If the service pack has been loaded, but it's still 3.X, try the following.

18.6 How can I detect that a machine is in fact NT on the network?

Hopefully it is a web server, and they've simply stated proudly "we're running NT", but don't expect that...

Port scanning will find some. Typically you'll see port 135 open. This is no guarantee it's not Windows 95, however. Using Samba you should be able to connect and query for the existence of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT and then check \CurrentVersion\CurrentVersion to determine the version running. If guest is enabled, try this first as Everyone has read permissions here by default.

Port 137 is used for running NetBios over IP, and since in the Windows world NetBios is used, certainly you can expect port 137 to be open if IP is anywhere in use around NT.

Another possible indication is checking for port 139. This tells you your target is advertising an SMB resource to share info, but it could be any number of things, such as a Windows 95 machine or even Windows for Workgroups. These may not be entirely out of the question as potential targets, but if you are after NT you will have to use a combination of the aforementioned techniques coupled with some common sense.

To simplify this entire process, Secure Networks Inc. has a freeware utility called NetBios Auditing Tool. This tool's intent is to test NetBios file sharing configurations and passwords on remote systems. It is discussed more in detail in the NT Client Attack section.

18.7 Can I do on-the-fly disk encryption on NT?

Try Shade. It allows you to create an encrypted disk device inside a file. This "device" can then be formatted using either NTFS or FAT and used as a regular disk. Shade encrypts on every write operation and decrypts on every read operation to this new device.

Look for Shade at Softwinter.

18.8 Does the FTP service allow passive connections?

I was playing around in the registry, looking for odd things, and found this strange entry under System\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSFTPSVC\Parameters:

EnablePortAttack: REG_DWORD:

If set to 1, you can do passive connections depending on the TCP port you use. A passive connection is where you can connect to FTP site, and from there connect to site It is used by hackers because any odd connections at will appear in logs as coming from Most typical is a port scan.

A port scanner for doing this from a Unix box can be found at Packetstorm.

18.9 What is this "port scanning" you are talking about?

Port scanning is a technique to check TCP/IP ports to see what services are available. For example port 80 is typically a web server, port 25 is SMTP used by Internet mail and so on. By scanning and seeing what TCP/IP ports are listening at the end of a TCP/IP address, you can get an idea as to what type of box the target might be, what services are available, and possibly plan an attack if you are aware of an exploit involving a particular service.

If port 135, 137, 138, and 139 are open on the target of a scan, it is quite possible that the target is NT (although it could be Win95 or even WFW 3.11, see the questions and answers above).

18.10 Does NT have bugs like Unix' sendmail?

If the server is running a POP3 server like Exchange, you can use a brute force technique to guess passwords. Odds are that the sys admin is not logging or looking at logs for this stuff. In particular, if you are dealing with a sys admin that isn't used to the wild and wooly Unix world, it may not even occur to the admin to look. This is something that NT folks are just now having to face, whereas their Unix admin counterparts have had to maintain this level of scrutiny for a while.

18.11 How is password changing related to "last login time"?

Let's say an admin is checking the last time certain users have logged in by doing a NET USER /DOMAIN. Is the info accurate? Most of the time it will NOT be.

Most users do not login directly to the Primary Domain Controller (PDC), they login to a Backup Domain Controller (BDC). BDCs do NOT contain readonly versions of SAM, they contain read-write versions. To keep the already ungodly amount of network traffic down, BDCs do not tell the PDC that they have an update of the last login time until a password change has been done. And the NET USER /DOMAIN command checks the PDC, so last login time returned from this command could be wildly off (it could even show NEVER).

As a hacker, if you happen to know that password aging is not enforced, then you can bet that last login times will probably not be very accurate

18.12 Can sessions be hijacked?

In theory, however no one has yet coded the exploit. It would involve a complex spoofing job where not only would the session have to be hijacked at the transport level (getting all of the ACK/NACK numbering correct), but the tree ID (TID) and user ID (UID) would have to be spoofed at the redirector and server level respectively. We are talking SMB at this point.

A more likely session to be hijacked would be a telnet session to an NT server, but this applies to any straight telnet session, NT or not, and is beyond the scope of this question. For more information refer to

18.13 Are "man in the middle" attacks possible?

Ealry versions of LANMAN send the password in the clear -- which is definately sniffer-bait. But the challenge/response authentication used by LANMAN 2.1 and earlier is subject to possible attack -- namely a plaintext attack. Since the challenge is plaintext, an attacker can acquire known plaintext/ciphertext pairs. Offline, the attacker can then test a guess at a password by using it to generate a key, encrypting the plaintext, and comparing it to the corresponding ciphertext. If it matches, the password is compromised.

Since case doesn't matter, a brute force attack is theoretically possible against plaintext/ciphertext pair obtained via a known plaintext attack.

However, this is simply offline attacking. A true man-in-the-middle attack allows a third party to intercept and replace components of the challenge/response conversation with their own, acquiring the password or even taking over the session itself. However, the easier of the two is getting the password.

By catching the start of a conversation and forging the challenge, the client would response with the response to the server, and the attacker would know a part of the equation, shortening the time and effort needed to break the plaintext/ciphertext pair.

By "precompiling" a list of response/password pairs, the password could be determined even quicker.

NT LM 0.12 uses MD4 to generate keying material, and since upper and lower case are allowed, the full 56 bits allowed by DES can be used. This does not eliminate the problem -- it simply increases the difficulty of brute force against a plaintext/ciphertext pair.

However this does nothing towards a realtime attack. The best method would be as follows:

It is also possible in theory to catch the session before the authentication process even starts. For example:

This attack has been partially implemented with the c2myazz file, which forces a plaintext login.

18.14 What about TCP Sequence Number Prediction?

This is possible, but unlikely, on anything requiring the TID and UID as a part of the spoof. TCP Sequence Number Prediction involves guessing what the TCP numbering sequence is, and inserting packets to (typically) execute commands on the target host with the proper sequence number.

18.15 What's the story with buffer overflows on NT?

Dildog has written the definative paper on the subject. Check out "The Tao of Windows Buffer Overflow" at Cult of the Dead Cow for a complete picture of buffer overflows, how they work, and how to code your own exploits for Microsoft operating systems.

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