Beginners' Series #2, Section  Two. 

Hacking into Windows 95 (and a little bit of NT lore)! 

Important warning: this is a beginners lesson. BEGINNERS. Will all you geniuses who were born already
knowing 32-bit Windows just skip reading this one, OK? We don't need to hear how disgusted you are that
not everyone already knows this.  


This lesson will lay the foundation for learning how to hack what now is the most commonly installed
workstation operating system: Windows NT. In fact, Windows NT is coming into wide use as a local area
network (LAN), Internet, intranet, and Web server. So if you want to call yourself a serious hacker, you'd
better get a firm grasp on Win NT. 

In this lesson you will learn serious hacking techniques useful on both Windows 95 and Win NT systems
while playing in complete safety on your own computer. 

In this lesson we explore: 

· Several ways to hack your Windows 95 logon password  
· How to hack your Pentium CMOS password  
· How to hack a Windows Registry -- which is where access control on Windows-based LANs, intranets
and Internet and Webs servers are hidden! 

Let's set the stage for this lesson. You have your buddies over to your home to see you hack on your
Windows 95 box. You've already put in a really industrial haxor- looking bootup screen, so they are already
trembling at the thought of what a tremendously elite d00d you are. So what do you do next?  

How about clicking on "Start," clicking "settings" then "control panel" then "passwords." Tell your friends
your password and get them to enter a secret new one. Then shut down your computer and tell them you
are about to show them how fast you can break their password and get back into your own box! 

This feat is so easy I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how it's done. That's because you'll say "Sheesh, you
call that password protection? Any idiot can break into a Win 95 box! And of course you're right. But that's
the Micro$oft way. Remember this next time you expect to keep something on your Win95 box confidential. 

And when it comes time to learn Win NT hacking, remember this Micro$oft security mindset. The funny
thing is that very few hackers mess with NT today because they're all busy cracking into Unix boxes. But
there are countless amazing Win NT exploits just waiting to be discovered. Once you see how easy it is to
break into your Win 95 box, you'll feel in your bones that even without us holding your hand, you could
discover ways to crack Win NT boxes, too. 

But back to your buddies waiting to see what an elite hacker you are. Maybe you'll want them to turn their
backs so all they know is  you can break into a Win95 box in less than one minute. Or maybe you'll be a nice
guy and show them exactly how it's done. 

But first, here's a warning. The first few techniques we're showing work on most home Win 95 installations.
But, especially in corporate local area networks (LANs), several of these techniques don't work. But never
fear, in this lesson we will cover enough ways to break in that you will be able to gain control of absolutely
*any* Win 95 box to which you have physical access. But we'll start with the easy ways first.   
Easy Win 95 Breakin #1: 

Step one: boot up your computer. 

Step two: When the "system configuration" screen comes up, press the "F5" key. If your system doesn't
show this screen, just keep on pressing the F5 key.  

If your Win 95 has the right settings, this boots you into "safe mode." Everything looks weird, but you
don't have to give your password and you still can run your programs. 

Too easy! OK, if you want to do something that looks a little classier, here's another way to evade that new

Easy Win 95 Breakin #2: 

Step one: Boot up. 

Step two: when you get to the "system configuration" screen, press the F8 key. This gives you the
Microsoft Windows 95 Startup Menu. 

Step three: choose number 7. This puts you into MS-DOS. At the prompt, give the command "rename
c:\windows \*pwl c: \windows \*zzz." 

Newbie note: MS-DOS stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System, an ancient operating system dating
from 1981. It is a command-line operating system, meaning that you get a prompt (probably c:\>) after which
you type in a command and press the enter key. MS-DOS is often abbreviated DOS. It is a little bit similar to
Unix, and in fact in its first version it incorporated thousands of l ines of Unix code. 

Step four: reboot. You will get the password dialog screen. You can then fake out your friends by entering
any darn password you want. It will ask you to reenter it to confirm your new password. 

Step five. Your friends are smart enough to suspect you just created a new password, huh? Well, you can
put the old one your friends picked. Use any tool you like -- File Manager, Explorer or MS-DOS -- to rename
*.zzz back to *.pwl. 

Step six: reboot and let your friends use their secret password. It still works! 

Think about it. If someone where to be sneaking around another person's Win 95 computer, using this
technique, the only way the victim could determine there had been an intruder is to check for recentl y
changed files and discover that the *.pwl files have been messed with 

Evil genius tip: Unless the msdos.sys file bootkeys=0 option is active, the keys that can do something
during the bootup process are F4, F5, F6, F8, Shift+F5, Control+F5 and Shift+F8. Play with them! 

Now let's suppose you discovered that your Win 95 box doesn't respond to the bootup keys. You can still
break in.
If your computer does allow use of the boot keys, you may wish to disable them in order to be a teeny bit
more secure. Besides, it's phun to show your friends how to use the boot keys and then disable these so
when they try to mess with your computer they will discover you've locked them out. 

The easiest -- but s lowest --  way to disable the boot keys is to pick the proper settings while installing Win
95. But we're hackers, so we can pull a fast trick to do the same thing. We are going to learn how to edit the
Win 95 msdos.sys file, which controls the boot sequence. 

Easy Way to Edit your Msdos.sys File:  

Step zero: Back up your computer completely, especially the system files. Make sure you have a Windows
95 boot disk. We are about to play with fire! If you are doing this on someone else's computer, let's just
hope either you have permission to destroy the operating system, or else you are so good you couldn't
possibly make a serious mistake. 

Newbie note: You don't have a boot disk? Shame, shame, shame! Everyone ought to have a boot disk for
their computer just in case you or your buddies do something really horrible to your system files. If you
don't already have a Win 95 boot disk, here's how to make one. 
To do this you need an empty floppy disk and your Win 95 installation disk(s). Click on Start, then Settings,
then Control Panel, then Add/Remove Programs, then Startup Disk.  From here just follow instructions. 

Step one: Find the file msdos.sys. It is in the root directory (usually C: \). Since this is a hidden system file,
the easiest way to find it is to click on My Computer, right click the icon for your boot drive (usually C:), left
click Explore, then scroll down the right side frame until you find the file "msdos.sys."  

Step two: Make msdos.sys writable. To do this, right click on msdos.sys, then left click "properties." This
brings up a screen on which you uncheck the "read only" and "hidden" boxes. You have now made this a
file that you can pull into a word processor to edit. 

Step three: Bring msdos.sys up in Word Pad. To do this, you go to File Manager. Find msdos.sys again and
click on it. Then click "associate" under the "file" menu. Then click on "Word Pad." It is very important to
use Word Pad and not Notepad or any other word processing program! Then double click on msdos.sys. 

Step four: We are ready to edit. You will see that Word Pad has come up with msdos.sys loaded. You will
see something that looks like this: 

WinBootDir=C: \WINDOWS 


;The following lines are required for compatibility with other programs. 
;Do not remove them (MSDOS>SYS needs to be >1024 bytes). 
To disable the function keys during bootup, directly below [Options] you should insert the command
Or, another way to disable the boot keys is to insert the command BootDelay=0. You can really mess up
your snoopy hacker wannabe friends by putting in both statements and hope they don't know about
BootDelay. Then save msdos.sys. 

Step five: since msdos.sys is absolutely essential to your computer, you'd better write protect it like it was
before you edited it. Click on My Computer, then Explore, then click the icon for your boot drive (usually C:),
then scroll down the right side until you find the file "msdos.sys."  
Click on msdos.sys, then left click "properties." This brings back that screen with the "read only" and
"hidden" boxes. Check "read only."  

Step six: You *are* running a virus scanner, aren't you? You never know what your phriends might do to
your computer while your back is turned. When you next boot up, your virus scanner will see that
msdos.sys has changed. It will assume the worst and want to make your msdos.sys file look just like it did
before. You have to stop it from doing this. I run Norton Antivirus, so all I have to do when the virus
warning screen comes up it to tell it to "innoculate." 

Hard Way to Edit your (or someone else's) Msdos.sys File. 

Step zero. This is useful practice for using DOS to run rampant someday in Win NT LANs, Web and
Internet servers. Put a Win 95 boot disk in the a: drive. Boot up. This gives you a DOS prompt A:\. 

Step one: Make msdos.sys writable. Give the command "attrib  -h -r -s c:\msdos.sys" 
(This assumes the c: drive is the boot disk.) 

Step two: give the command "edit msdos.sys" This brings up this file into the word processor. 

Step three: Use t he edit program to alter msdos.sys. Save it. Exit the edit program.  

Step four: At the DOS prompt, give the command "attrib +r +h +s c: \msdos.sys" to return the msdos.sys file
to the status of hidden, read-only system file.  

OK,  now your computer's boot keys are disabled. Does this mean no one can break in? Sorry, this isn't
good enough. 

As you may have guessed from the "Hard Way to Edit your Msdos.sys" instruction, your next option for
Win 95 breakins is to use a boot disk that goes in the a: floppy drive. 

How to Break into a Win 95 Box Using a Boot Disk 

Step one: shut down your computer. 

Step two: put boot disk into A: drive. 

Step three: boot up. 

Step four: at the A:\ prompt, give the command: rename c: \windows\*.pwl c: \windows\*.zzz. 

Step four: boot up again. You can enter anything or nothing at the password prompt and get in. 

Step five: Cover your tracks by renaming the password files back to what they were.

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