How Crackers Break in as Administrator

As we look around Oldguy further, we see that there's not much else an anonymous user can do to it. We know that there is a user named Administrator. What can we do if we can convince Oldguy that we are Administrator?

Newbie note: in Windows NT, 2000 and XP, the Administrator user has total power over its computer, just as root has total power over a Unix/Linux type computer. However, it is possible to change the name of Administrator so an attacker has to guess which user has all the power.

Let's try to log in as Administrator by guessing the password. Give the command:

C:\>net use \\\ipc$ * /user:Administrator
Type the password for \\\ipc$:
System error 1219 has occurred.

Multiple connections to a server or shared resource by the same user, using more than one user name, are not allowed. Disconnect all previous connections to the server or shared resource and try again.

This means that someone else is currently logged onto this server who has Administrator rights. Furthermore, this person is probably watching me on an IDS and thinking up terrible things to do to me. Eeep! Actually this is all going on inside my hacker lab - but you get the idea of what it could be like when trying to invade a computer without permission.

I discover that whether I guess the password correctly or not, I always get the same error message. This is a good safety feature. On the other hand, one of the users is named Administrator. This is a bad thing for the defender. When you first set up a Windows NT or 2000 server, there is always a user called Administrator, and he or she has total power over that computer. If you know the all-powerful user is named Administrator, you can try guessing the password whenever no one is logged on with Administrator powers.

Computer criminals don't waste time guessing by hand. They use a program such as NAT or Legion to get passwords. These programs are why smart NT administrators rename their Administrator accounts and choose hard passwords. Also, this kind of persistent attack will be detected by an intrusion detection system, making it easy to catch criminals at work.

You can get expelled warning: What if you are a student and you want to save your school from malicious code kiddies who steal tests and change grades? It is important to get permission *in writing* before you test the school's network. Even then, you still must be careful to be a model student. If you act up, cut classes - you know what I mean - the first time a cracker messes up the network, who do you think they will suspect? Yes, it's unfair, and yes, that is the way the world works.

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