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TUCoPS :: Security App Flaws :: hs.txt

HackerShield 1.1 Default password vuln.


                          Nomad Mobile Research Centre
                                 A D V I S O R Y
                        Simple Nomad []

                              Platform : Microsoft NT 4.0 SP5
                           Application : Hackershield v1.1
                              Severity : High


The HackerShield product creates a local account during installation with
a password that is not machine specific. This includes the HackerShield
demo product available via the Internet.

Tested configuration

Testing was done with the following configuration :

Microsoft NT 4.0 Server and Workstation with SP3 (no additional hotfixes)
Microsoft NT 4.0 Server and Workstation with SP5 (with Csrss, LSA-3, RAS,
 WinHelp hotfixes)
HackerShield Product Version 1.10.1105, Package Version 11

Product Background

Hackershield ( --
originally developed by Netect (, but recently
purchased by Bindview ( -- is a security scanner
that scans for security flaws on Windows and Unix platforms. It is very
similar and compares nicely to the feature set of ISS' Internet Security
Scanner and NAI's CyberCop. It allows both manual and auto-updates of new
hack signatures, called RapidFire updates, as well as automated scanning
sessions which allow a system administrator to define a schedule for
scanning a set of network resources. The idea is to provide an automated
method of keeping your systems fairly up-to-date from a security
perspective by downloading new vulnerabilities and running pre-scheduled
scans. This is fairly similar to the modern anti-virus model where you set
your anti-virus software to automatically download new virus signature
files from the anti-virus vendor's FTP site and then run the virus scan,
except the automated updates come via PGP-signed email.

Bug - Service User password is recoverable

To facilitate HackerShield automation of scanning, a Service User named
NetectAgentAdmin$ is installed with local Administrator privileges on the
scanning computer. Unfortunately, the password can be easily recovered.

Since the advent of recent patches to Microsoft NT, recovery of Service
User password information is a little harder. For example, pwdump will not
recover the hash for NetectAgentAdmin$, but pwdump2 will. Users of
L0phtcrack will not be able to dump this user, but using pwdump2 will get
the following for this user (text is wrapped):

NetectAgentAdmin$:1001:7a8754eda3b21376136260cc65a99030: \

Being security conscious, the HackerShield folks at least made the
password 14 characters, but the password is not machine-specific. The
first 12 characters are np7m4qM1M7VT while the last two are non-printing
characters. Due to the non-printing characters, L0phtcrack will not
brute-force crack the password using the standard choices of character
sets (although it should be possible to type in the alt codes into a
custom character set -- we did not try this as the characters are still
non-printing), but using Paul Ashton's code (posted to NTBugtraq August 9,
1997) it can be extracted as plaintext on an NT 4 SP3 workstation or

The implications of this should be obvious -- a service user with a known
password and local administrator rights is a prime target for intruders of
NT systems. Depending on where the product is loaded in your organization,
you have a potential vehicle for additional password recovery, trojan
horse planting, and further compromise of the NT environment.

Bug Conclusions

If you have loaded the HackerShield product (including the demo) then you
have installed the Service User, and the two services called
HackerShieldAgent and HackerShieldSniffer. If this system is not
physically secure, or has Server services running, you have the potential
for compromise via the Service User.


Do not install HackerShield on non-physically secured systems. If you have
loaded HackerShield onto an NT host only to perform a localhost scan, it
is recommended you uninstall the product using the HSUninstall.exe program
once you have completed the scan.

Bindview has developed a patch for the Service User password to be machine
specific. It can be downloaded from In the Readme
file with the zip, Bindview has a reference to the following page:


We'd like to commend Bindview in their response to our contact. An email
was sent to them with our concerns, giving them an opportunity to respond.
The email was sent at 9:30AM on August 30, 1999 to a generic support
address, and a real human being replied within an hour, and confirmed our
findings later that day. They stated this is a bug as they never intended
to have non-unique passwords for the NetectAgentAdmin$ account.

The fact that Service Users' passwords can be recovered is reason enough
to upgrade to the latest patches, although Microsoft has still not
addressed the pwdump2 issue. Despite the fact that you have to be a local
administrator to recover the hashes, it still illustrates the danger of
using Microsoft's own authentication methods when trying to deliver a
secured solution to NT. For this we would like to issue our strong
distaste for Microsoft's built-in authentication measures, and how they
are (un) protected.

We do understand why Bindview (or technically, Netect) did it -- they are
in the business of delivering products to market as quickly as possible --
but when you deliver a security product you must ensure that the product
itself is secure. Personally, we like the anti-virus styled model as far
as security scanners go, but if you build your security application on a
shaky and flawed security model then your security application is only
going to be as good as that flawed model.

This scenario is probably in existence in any number of other products
that use Service Users. Bindview is not alone here, we just happened to
look at their product.


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