Microsoft's NT network operating system has been dealt a serious blow with revelations of a new utility written by hackers which can crack the OS' security.
According to US reports, the breach in security has far-reaching consequences, with the potential for a malicious user to gain access to NT Server's precious password file. This holds the account information of all users and, more importantly, their passwords.
David Bridger, Windows NT Server product manager at Microsoft UK, said the "utility" was written to aid system administrators who wished to migrate user accounts from Unix to Windows NT.
However Jeremy Allison, principle author of the utility, called PWDump, warned it could be used to enable people to see all the actual passwords.
The utility retrieves the encrypted Windows NT password file and Emails a decrypted version to whoever requests it.
Microsoft said only system administrators would be able to use PWDump in this manner. However, a discussion group on the Net has debated on whether PWDump could be run inadvertently by a system administrator, for instance as a program within an Email message.
Bridger reassured customers that if they have proper security systems in place they will not be affected by the utility.
The Windows NT operating system has been around since 1993. But, compared to operating systems such as VMS, it is still very much an immature technology.
No matter how hard Microsoft plays down the PWDump utility, the damage has been done. Microsoft must fix all security problems, if it wants users to deploy NT in the enterprise.
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