The Hack FAQ

20.0 Netware Passwords

This section deals with Netware passwords.

20.1 How do I access the password file in Netware?

Contrary to not-so-popular belief, access to the password file in Netware is not like Unix - the password file isn't in the open. All objects and their properties are kept in the bindery files on 2.x and 3.x, and kept in the NDS database in 4.x. An example of an object might be a printer, a group, an individual's account etc. An example of an object's properties might include an account's password or full user name, or a group's member list or full name. The bindery files attributes (or flags) in 2.x and 3.x are Hidden and System, and these files are located on the SYS: volume in the SYSTEM subdirectory. Their names are as follows:

        Netware version         File Names
        ---------------         ----------
        2.x                     NET$BIND.SYS, NET$BVAL.SYS
        3.x                     NET$OBJ.SYS, NET$PROP.SYS, NET$VAL.SYS

The NET$BVAL.SYS and NET$VAL.SYS are where the passwords are actually located in 2.x and 3.x respectively.

In Netware 4.x, the files are located in a different location on the SYS: volume. It is a hidden directory called _NETWARE. In this directory are located the NDS files, license files, and a number of other system-related files such as login scripts and auditing files.

        File                    What it is
        --------------          --------------------------
        VALUE.NDS               Object and property values
        BLOCK.NDS               Extended property values
        ENTRY.NDS               Object and property types
        PARTITIO.NDS            NDS partition info (replication info, etc.)
        MLS.000                 License file.
        VALINCEN.DAT            License validation

To view the hidden SYS:_NETWARE directory, you can try to use RCONSOLE and the Scan Directory option, although later versions of Netware 4.x have patched this (starting with 410pt3). Here is another way to view these files, and potentially edit them. After installing NW4 on a NW3 volume, reboot the server with a 3.x SERVER.EXE. On volume SYS will be the _NETWARE directory. SYS:_NETWARE is hidden better on 4.1 than 4.0x, but in pre-410pt3 patched 4.1 you can still see the files by scanning directory entry numbers using NCP calls (you need the APIs for this) using function 0x17 subfunction 0xF3.

Using JCMD.NLM, it is possible to access SYS:_NETWARE, and do many fun things, like copy NDS, etc. But what hackers have asked for is a way to access this directory WITHOUT uploading an NLM via RCONSOLE. You can try using NETBASIC.NLM (see the Netware Console Attacks section for details), and actually copy NDS files to a directory you can access (like SYS:PUBLIC).

20.2 What's the full story with Netware passwords?

A Novell proprietary algorithm takes the password, and produces a 16 byte hash. This algorithm is the same for versions 3.x and 4.x of Netware. The algorithm is also inside the LOGIN.EXE file used by the client when logging in. The details of the algorithm itself can be found in the crypt.txt file included with Pandora (see Pandora for details).

The 16 byte hash is stored within the bindery files in Netware 3.x and NDS in Netware 4.x. Since the object ID is used in the algorithm, it adds the equivalent of a salt. This along with the fact that the password length plays into the algorithm increases the overhead in cracking multiple passwords at once.

Fortunately for the cracker, both the object ID and the password length are stored with the hash, along with that fact that lower case letters are converted to upper case before generating the hash does simplify the process slightly. Password crackers can brute force a little easier since they can eliminate trying lower case letters and concentrate on a particular password length.

20.3 How does password cracking work with Netware?

Because of the complexity of the algorithm, using it the way it was designed is somewhat slow for cracking, especially by brute force. However the algorithm can be mathematically improved, and in fact WAS improved and optimized just for cracking purposes. See Jitsu-Disk's document crypt.txt that was included with Pandora that details this. The algorithm is dozens of times faster than Novell's original code. However brute force is slow work with Netware, so only use it as a last resort, especially if you have a LOT of time.

This is especially true with regards to the brute force crackers that attack from the client. Since you are dealing with the network itself, expect AT BEST about a password attempt a second from most network cracking utilities.

20.4 How does password cracking work with Netware?

With Pandora v3.0 you have the fastest dictionary cracking available. And if you must attack from a client, make sure if you are using a cracker that you are using dictionary attacking.

For Netware 3.x systems, consider using Al Grant's Bindery tool.

20.5 Can an Sys Admin prevent/stop Netware password hash extraction?

The best way for a Sys Admin to prevent Netware password hash extraction is to at least try the following:

You see, once the server has been compromised, sometimes not even completely, there will be NOTHING to stop unwanted password recovery. Hackers, just do the opposite of the above items and you'll be fine ;-)

20.6 Can I reset an NDS password with just limited rights?

There is a freeware utility called N4PASS, that is meant for Netware 4.10 (uses NDS calls and is not bindery based). The intention of this package is to enable a Help Desk to reset passwords for users without granting them tons of rights. It uses full logging and does not require massive ACL manipulation to do it.

Obviously being set up to use this utility opens a few doors. You can download it here from

A couple of interesting things about this utility -- if configured incorrectly the server may be compromised in a number of ways. For instance, the password generated is a calculation that uses a 'temp filename', the date, the user's loginname, helpdesk login name, seed value, and a few other items. (its in the n4pass.txt file)

N4PASS is not set to purge immediately, the file is salvagable. Also, if the rights to the N4PASS directory are too open, you can discover the default password, among other things. The text file included with the utility covers this, so read it carefully if you are installing it. If you are hacking, read it carefully too ;-)

It is critical that access to the sys:\n4pass\password is secure since any 'temp file' (.1st extension) can cause the 'password reset' for the person listed in the 'temp file'.

20.7 What is OS2NT.NLM?

OS2NT.NLM is a Novell-supplied NLM for recovering/fixing Admin, like after it becomes an Unknown object, as opposed to User -- especially after a DSREPAIR. This module is considered a "last resort" NLM and you must contact Novell to use it. While I haven't seen it, it is supposed to be on one of Novell's FTP sites. It supposedly is customized by Novell to work with your serial number and is a one-time use NLM. You have to prove to Novell who you are and that your copy of Netware is registered.

I would suspected it is possible that this NLM could be hacked to get around the one-time use and serial number/password thing, but a restore of NDS from a good backup would accomplish things better. This way is a little destructive.

20.8 How does password encryption work?

From itsme -

the password encryption works as follows:
 1- the workstation requests a session key from the server
 2- the server sends a unique 8 byte key to the workstation

 3- the workstation encrypts the password with the userid,
     - this 16 byte value is what is stored in the bindery on the server

 4- the WS then encrypts this 16 byte value with the 8 byte session key
    resulting in 8 bytes, which it sends to the server
     (NCP-17-18 = login), (NCP-17-4a = verify pw) (NCP-17-4b = change pw)

 5- the server performs the same encryption, and compares its own result
    with that sent by the WS

-> the information contained in the net$*.old files which can be found
   in the system directory after bindfix was run, is enough to login
   to the server as any object. just skip step 3

20.9 Can I login without a password?

If you have acquired the one-way hash from Bindery or NDS files, you have enough info to login without password, as stated by Itsme in the previous section. Pandora v3.0 includes tools for accomplishing this -- see Pandora for details.

20.10 What's with Windows 95 and Netware passwords?

Windows 95 has its own password file, and uses this file to store passwords to Windows 95 itself as well as Netware and NT servers. The problem here is that the PWL file is easily cracked by brute force, by using exploit code readily available on the Internet. To keep this from happening either Service Pack 1 should be applied (see Microsoft) or disable password caching.

But you can still access the WIN386.SWP file. Either using a disk utility like DiskEdit from Norton or by booting from DOS, you can access the swap file and scan it for the password in plaintext. Look for a string like nwcs and the password will follow that.

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