Newsgroup Chatter: Windows Anti-Counterfeit Tool Requires Loosening PC Security - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Newsgroup Chatter: Windows Anti-Counterfeit Tool Requires Loosening PC Security

One university administrator found that complying with Windows' new anti-counterfeit measures meant he had to open up the security reins on PCs in public places like campus computer labs.

Some system administrators are finding that Microsoft's new anti-piracy software is incorrectly labeling PCs used in public places, such as university computer labs, as counterfeits, and that the solution sidestep a basic security practice for out-in-the-open machines, according to a newsgroup discussion of the issue.

After Microsoft unveiled its Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications tool last week, a university system administrator -- who preferred to remain anonymous but took the name "GodOfLions" on the Microsoft "WGA Validation Problems" newsgroup -- said that lab PCs came back as running fake copies.

"I work at a University where we have a bunch of Windows XP SP2 machines setup in lab areas," said GodOfLions in a message on the newsgroup. "In these areas students are allowed to log on to the systems, but their accounts are restricted to what they can do. The problem with the WGA installation is that it works perfectly fine as long as you are using an account with administrative rights on the system. As soon as one of the students, or other non-administrative level account, logs on to the system it screams that it is not a valid copy of windows and it is counterfeit."

A Microsoft staffer monitoring the newsgroup intervened, eventually diagnosed the problem, and offered a fix: give everyone, including the student systems running under rights-restrictive accounts, write access to a file called "data.dat."

"Validation tool writes data to data.dat file during validation process," wrote a Microsoft staffer identified as "Satish." So 'User account' needs to have Write access to file."

The system administrator eventually gave in to Microsoft's solution, but blasted it as violating the security concept behind limited-rights accounts.

"It does not make sense to have to reduce security in order to validate the system," wrote GodOfLions. "Yes it is only allowing write to one file, but still that is another small area you can have users or viruses now write to on a system that it didn't have before."

He also pointed out that the Microsoft tech support document outlining the rights needed by data.dat were still incorrect, and needed to be updated. As of Wednesday, the document had not been modified.

"Our lead architect has been informed and we are noting the changes necessary," was the response from Philip Liu, another Microsoft staffer. "I apologize sincerely upon the WGA team for causing this inconvenience for you," wrote Liu.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll