Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Another way past Windows antipiracy found

Filed under
Microsoft

The check is meant to prevent people with pirated copies of the operating system from downloading additional software from Microsoft. By changing a setting in a Microsoft validation tool called "GenuineCheck.exe," it's possible to generate a code that will validate the Windows software on a machine as genuine even if it is pirated, according to a Web site publicized on Thursday in a posting to the popular Full Disclosure security mailing list.

Microsoft would not confirm that the method works, but the software maker is investigating the issue, a company representative said. "It is not a surprise for us that those who never intended to pay for software would try to find some way to circumvent Windows Genuine Advantage," the representative said.

Microsoft last week made the Windows piracy check mandatory for all customers who want to download add-ons for Windows XP and 2000. The effort, dubbed Windows Genuine Advantage, requires users to verify that they have a legitimate copy of the operating system before they can get files from Microsoft's download Web sites.

Tricking the check

For the software maker, the news could be another episode of people finding a way to get around WGA. Last week, several Web sites said it was possible to bypass the piracy lock by several means, including pasting a JavaScript string into the Web browser. Earlier this year, during WGA's pilot phase, a security researcher outlined another way to trick the check.

The GenuineCheck.exe tool is meant to provide an alternative way for people to prove that their copy of Windows is an official Microsoft version. The primary WGA checking mechanism uses ActiveX, which is not supported in all Web browsers. The popular open-source Firefox Web browser, for example, does not support ActiveX.

"To make the validation experience as user-friendly as possible, Microsoft engineered a process that enables customers to validate their systems easily, and unfortunately, unscrupulous users are able to exploit that," the Microsoft representative said.

According to the Thursday posting, all a PC user apparently has to do to have GenuineCheck.exe generate a valid code on a machine with pirated Windows XP is to run it in Windows 2000 compatibility mode. This is done by downloading the tool, right-clicking on the file and selecting "properties." Then select the "compatibility" tab in the menu and change the compatibility mode.

If the method actually works, it may be short-lived. "Microsoft will be updating the validation system from time to time and plans to address these issues," the Microsoft representative said.

WGA is a stepped-up effort by Microsoft to increase the number of Windows users that are actually paying Microsoft for its software. At the moment, the company estimates that roughly a third of Windows copies worldwide are not legitimate.

By Joris Evers
CNET News.com

More in Tux Machines

Elementary OS’s Pantheon Desktop May Become Available On Fedora Systems, Starting With Fedora 22

The Fedora developers are thinking at porting Elementary OS’s Pantheon Desktop to Fedora. If this happens, Pantheon will be available via the default repositories of Fedora, starting with Fedora 22, which will be released next year. Read more

Docker in Production — What We’ve Learned Launching Over 300 Million Containers

Earlier this year, we made a decision to run every task on IronWorker inside its own Docker container. Since then, we've run over 300,000,000 programs inside of their own private Docker containers on cloud infrastructure. Now that we’ve been in production for several months, we wanted to take the opportunity to share with the community some of the challenges we faced in running a Docker-based infrastructure, how we overcame them, and why it was worth it. Read more

Review: Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME

It has been a while since I have done a review (almost 3 months, in fact). It has been significantly longer since I have looked at Scientific Linux (over 3 years, in fact). Given that, I figured it might be worthwhile to make this review about Scientific Linux 7.0. I'm just glad that I did it before the time elapsed for something else to come up (around 3 minutes, in fact — OK, I just made that one up to match the other statements). Read more

Free software hacker on open source telemetry project for OpenStack

Julien Danjou is a free software hacker almost all of the time. At his day job, he hacks on OpenStack for eNovance. And, in his free time, he hacks on free software projects like Debian, Hy, and awesome. Julien has also written The Hacker's Guide to Python and given talks on OpenStack and the Ceilometer project, among other things. Prior to his talk at OpenStack Summit 2014 in Paris this year, we interviewed him about his current work and got some great insight into the work going on for the Ceilometer project, the open source telemetry project for OpenStack. Read more