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Well, what a weekend that has been. Ever since the reports started emerging online of a brute force attack on the Vista activation code using a modified version of the original software license manager script file I have been, shall we say, dubious as to the authenticity of the claim. Not least because amongst all my contacts in the security research business, on both sides of the industry fence, I failed to find a single one who could verify the crack through their own personal experience.

Oh, there have been plenty of reports online of people finding legitimate code keys in a matter of minutes, sometimes hours, appearing but not from anyone I know as a trusted source of such information. If, as was claimed, the script could run through around 5,000 keys every hour (of itself not the most powerful of brute force attacks it has to be said) I would have expected to have seen hundreds of these keys being offered for sale via the usual suspects on the dark underbelly of the web.

But no, that was not the case. So I was left with just the one option: try the keygen script for myself. In two days of constant running it returned the grand total of, well, no valid keys at all in fact. There was little shocking me when I read that the original poster of the keygen code was now claiming it had all been a hoax.

Here’s what ‘Computer User’ had to say: “fact is the brute force keygen is a joke, i never intended for it to work. I have never gotten it to work, everyone should stop using it! everyone who said they got a key a probably lying or mistaken!”

Of course, the story does not stop there. This posting was then quickly followed by plenty of folk claiming to have used the script, or slightly modified versions thereof, to generate valid licenses. One chap even posted a video as supposed evidence of the keygen working as described. But read the comments to that posting and it soon becomes clear that the video posted to squash the hoax claim was, while not exactly a hoax not exactly evidence of anything either. It is just generating keys that are not valid, indeed they even contain illegal digits that are not used in Microsoft activation keys.

What’s more, even if the thing had been working as advertised it is not at all certain that the keys so generated would pass as legitimate once they get to the next stage of the process: the Microsoft product activation servers.

According to Alex Kochis, the Senior Product Manager of Windows Genuine Advantage at Microsoft, these servers “perform a more rigorous analysis of the keys that are sent up for activation than the local key logic does. For this reason producing keys that will ultimately activate is less likely than just hitting upon one that will pass the local logic."

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by albattar96
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Man, I feel so stupid believing every word of that thing. Perhaps I should be bit more skeptical next time. :o

PS: Thanks for un-featuring my entry!

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Dani beat me to it with the un-featuring :)

No need to feel stupid about believing the original claim, it was a very easy thing to do. The fact that people were running the keygen code without understanding how it was meant to work, seeing a code appear without knowing it was not a legit dodgy one (if you see what I mean) and then posting about how great it all was added to the validity. As did the number of blogs that just took it on face value and ran with it, without doing any checking whatsoever. The whole story quickly got a kind of natural momentum to it and became, for want of a better description, a runaway train. It was Slashdotted for example, and from then on became the truth.

Until the original poster realized what had happened and coughed.

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Greetings,

Text below was copied and pasted from the "readme.txt" file available in PARADOX's OEM BIOS Emulation Toolkit For Windows Vista x86 v1.0

It start from here:
What's the purpose of this release?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bypassing the product activation requirement of Microsoft Windows Vista x86.


How does it work?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Microsoft allows large hardware manufacturers (e.g. ASUS, HP, Dell) to ship their products
containing a Windows Vista installation that does NOT require any kind of product activation as
this might be considered an unnecessary inconvenience for the end-user.
Instead these so-called 'Royalty OEMs' are granted the right to embed certain license information
into their hardware products, which can be validated by Windows Vista to make obtaining further
activation information (online or by phone) obsolete.
This mechanism is commonly referred to as 'SLP 2.0' ('system-locked pre-installation 2.0') and
consists of the following three key elements:

1. The OEM's hardware-embedded BIOS ACPI_SLIC information signed by Microsoft.

2. A certificate issued by Microsoft that corresponds to the specific ACPI_SLIC information.

The certificate is an XML file found on the OEM's installation/recovery media,
ususally called something like 'oemname.xrm-ms'.

3. A special type of product key that corresponds to the installed edition of Windows Vista.

This key can usually be obtained from some installation script found on the OEM's
installation/recovery media or directly from a pre-installed OEM system.

If all three elements match Windows Vista's licensing mechansim considers the given
installation a valid system-locked pre-activated copy (that does not require any
additional product activation procedures).

So the basic concept of the tool at hand is to present any given BIOS ACPI_SLIC information to Windows
Vista's licensing mechanism by means of a device driver.
In combination with a matching product key and OEM certificate this allows for rendering any system
practically indistinguishable from a legit pre-activated system shipped by the respective OEM.

It's end here.

Anybody interested in having this "toolkit" to activate their illegal copy of Vista (Ultimate, Business, Home Premium, Home Basic only) can PM me. TQ

Regards.

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