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Microsoft Windows OS (XP/NT/Vista/Windows 7/8/9/10) Forum

XP SP2 May Contain Trojan Horse To Deal With Illegal CD Keys

 11:41 pm on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


This time around Microsoft may have found a much more destructive way to get rid off Illegal copies of WindowsXp than Service Pack1. Users installing SP1 on illegal copies would simply get a 'This is a pirated copy' error message. But now Microsoft has armed itself with a huge list of illegal CD keys ensuring that SP2 does not install. CORRECTED: It has been rumoured that the boot sector of the OS would be modified rendering the OS unusable.

I updated the original quote. The authors corrected a portion of their article. It is not known if XP SP2 modifies your boot sector to cripple the hard drive

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 12:36 pm (utc) on July 14, 2004]



 11:56 pm on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

At what point does protecting your copyright cross the line into vigilantism and vandalism?


 12:01 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> also destroys the computer hard drive by rendering it unusable.

That's quite offensive, imho. One thing is that they could render the illegal copy of their OS unusable, but doing it to the hard drive (which may contain all kinds of other documents and software) is begging for trouble.


 12:02 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

but also destroys the computer hard drive by rendering it unusable.

1. I find it very hard to believe, the windows xp corporate cd was cracked with valid corporate serial numbers so it should not affect them.

2. Even if they did something a long those lines it should not destroy the hard drive. Maybe it would make the operating system rendered useless, but touching files on the hard drive would cause major lawsuits, even though they may have an illegal copy of windows xp.


<added> I have been looking for Microsoft press Releases on this subject, I see no evidence of Destroying The Hard Drive at all, I question the Authenticity of this Article</added>

[edited by: outrun at 12:11 am (utc) on July 13, 2004]


 12:05 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

If someone steals your stereo, does that give you the right to go to the thief's house and burn it down?


 12:28 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

but also destroys the computer hard drive by rendering it unusable

Personally I suspect that this was simply a poor choice of words (or journalistic sensationalism). Perhaps rendering the drive unusable and 'destroying it' simply means the OS is disabled. I'm sure if the drive really is intended to be destroyed this will be very big news in no time at all.

If someone steals your stereo, does that give you the right to go to the thief's house and burn it down?

No, but you can track them down and break their fingers, right?


 12:34 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>does that give you the right to go to the thief's house and burn it down

It does here in the south. ;)

I would be amazed if this is true. If it is then expect MS to lose a lot of court cases.


 12:38 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I mentioned this in another thread but it deserves repeating: Microsoft clearly is more interested in control and making money rather than security. Offering security-related downloads even to warezed copies of XP should have been a no-brainer: you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people running warez copies who are suddenly going to buy a real copy of XP because they can't use Windows Update - the vast majority will just not patch, leaving them open to being transformed into owned machines bombarding the rest of us with spam and DDOS attacks for the fun and amusement of the script kiddie brigade.

Microsoft don't seem to care any more, and they've decided to take their appalling security record and actually leverage that to increase XP sales. Utterly cynical - a new low is reached.


 12:41 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

This article is crap ... nothing true about it. You can read how SP2 REALLY works at EWeek:


However to those who think that MS "should" upgrade pirated copies, I said this in another post earlier but it applies here too. If you had spent a ton of money to develop a product, or even if you hadn't spent a lot of money but put your time into it, would you really give a crap about making sure the people who STOLE IT have the most up to date and secure version? I wouldn't. If you are going to steal from me maybe I can't stop you, but I'm sure as hell not going to upgrade your stolen copy.

does that give you the right to go to the thief's house and burn it dow

No, but it DOES give you the right to have them thrown in jail. Would you prefer Microsoft start doing that?


 1:36 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

...but it DOES give you the right to have them thrown in jail. Would you prefer Microsoft start doing that?


The law belongs in the hands of Law Enforcement, not corporations and not private citizens. Let a judge decide, not Bill Gates.

A sock full of quarters is a poor substitute for justice.


 2:43 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

It does here in the south. ;)

Don't mess with Texas! *laughing*

I'm getting a tad bit tired of obvious "trash MS" trolling maneuvers....

Which is NOT pointed at korkus, btw....


 2:51 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

If it detects that you have a valid CD key it will just rendor your OS unstable.


 3:04 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whether or not this story is true, how would anyone be able to destroy a piece of your hardware? I'm pretty naive in this area, but I'd be very surprised that hardware can be affected (I can understand software being affected).



 3:25 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Jen, I think it's meaning that everything ON your hdd will be compromised in some way.

That's effectively, in some lexicons, destroying your hardware because many people don't quite get that the physical hdd is NOT the information contained upon it....

*shrug* Whether or not any of this is true or is just the pipedream of someone who is out to get MS, we ALL should use it as a wakeup call: if you don't do religious REDUNDANT backups, you NEED TO START NOW. If you already DO THAT, then you NEED TO DO MORE....

I'm the queen of the redundant backup. I have cds that are compilations of floppy disks clear back to 5 1/4" that reach back 20 years. I have multiple copies of same. I have multiple copies of same living here at home, as well as in the horse trailer, the travel trailer, and 5 DIFFERENT safe deposit boxes, 2 of which are in cities in other states, with another copy in my daughter's bank-box in Germany.

My imagination is PARAMOUNT. Those cds contain the fruits of 50 some years of IMAGINING and trying to formulate in words and other media what my imaginings look and feel and sound and taste like. What could replace that?

NOT ONE THING - not one DAMNED thing. Make backups folks. PLEASE. [Oy. Out there in left-offtopic-field again.... WHO'S on first? Sorry....]

[Edit - or, there's the actually possible exploit which overwrites your info on the drive with a virus-like series of instructions.... which DOES render your drive unusable. See above rant re backups.... but even at that, you should still be able to recover the drive itself for use.]


 4:15 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yesteryear, there was a system call into, I believe it was the Commodore 64, which would turn-off wait states or something and cause the MicroP to overheat. The Motorola chip would actually become damaged because it would not turn off automatically when it over heated. Thus, thermo expansion would cause the layers of transistors to separate and ruin the computer.

I doubt they can do any permanent physical damage to a hard drive that a low level format couldn’t fix unless there is some kind of bug on the ROM mask that only industry insiders know about or similar.


 5:58 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm sure all they mean is stop the computer from booting windows any more. I'm sure you can still get into a command prompt and get your data. If would not take much to take away an NTFS partition from most people.


 6:56 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Its not true. This page now contains a retraction of this statement.


 12:34 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I updated the original quote. The authors corrected a portion of their article.


 2:01 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ms do not need "targeted" upgrades to destroy HD...
Usually MS os in the long term destroyes itself...

I'am ironic...

I think that there are two rules of tomb:

- you can not do justice yourself; there are the institutions for that.

- the defense can not be higher of the offense. They can use their army of lawers to get the money, but they can't cause a disaster. They cannot risk to destroy personal data or sensible data or precious work.


 4:18 pm on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Boy... Just like them. You know... maybe there wouldn't be so much pirated software / music out there if people weren’t getting fat off of it. Should I honestly believe that Microsoft needs almost $200 a copy of windows to get by? NO they do not. Just like the record industry... CDs are WAY cheaper to make than tapes, but tapes are less than half the cost of CDs.

I'm so sick of software companies complaining about piracy. My dad's company replaced all their computers rather than upgrade them to XP / office 2003. They would have spent more on software than it would cost to replace the whole machine, so they just got new computers. There's something REALLY REALLY wrong when ONE company can demand so much for their necessary product that it renders the software more valuable than machines.

Supply and demand... right. More like rape and pillage.


 8:00 pm on Jul 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I know that this topic is a few weeks in the making, but I will relay my experience with Windows XP and the new SP (not sure if it is SP1A or SP2) update. About a month ago I had to repair my XP borrowed copy of XP Pro, it was not registered but had all of the correction of SP1. I've been using it for 1 1/2 years. After updating I did (unfortunately) an auto update for all of the fixes from Microsoft. Every thing worked great for a month. Then my computer would hang while loading XP.

I had an old small 20 gig HD that had been updated with the MS fixes about the same time as my active one. I installed the old disk. It booted and then locked up. I restarted and it started to hang like the normal active boot HD. I then reformatted the 20 gig HD and reloaded the software; everything seemed to be loading OK until it started the reboot after loading. Again it would hang and not get past the MS startup screen.

Last night I ordered a new copy of the Retail XP Pro and should have it in a day or two. I will see what will happen when I try to repair my working HD. Will let you know if MS has really permanently disabled my HD.


 2:10 am on Jul 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Last night I ordered a new copy of the Retail XP Pro and should have it in a day or two. I will see what will happen when I try to repair my working HD. Will let you know if MS has really permanently disabled my HD.

FWIW: they have not... those with the right software and knowledge can recover most, if not all, of your data... i choose these words very carefully for a reason... now i'll give an example as to why...

a friend of mine has a HP laptop with XP on it. they had been having various problems with overheating and batteries... they possibly also had some viri, worms and spyware on the machine but we'll never know... this was a HP copy of XP Home with proper documentation and all that... anyway, the machine got stuck in a reboot loop complaining that it was unable to access the software hive (part of the registry stuffs)... my friend didn't have any disks or anything to try to recover (they didn't read the paperwork that came with the machine and order the media when they had the chance) so they brought the machine to me... i ended up having to go all the way back to 1993 and use a serial port transfer program called ZIP written by E. Meyer to get their family pictures off the drive... that was the only data that was important to them...

to do the above, i had to set up a DOS (yes! good old DOS) bootdisk with a NTFS driver on it so that i could read the NTFS format of the drive... once i was able to read the drive, i was able to use a 1991 copy of LIST.COM by Vernon D. Buerg to manually peruse the drive and locate the files i needed to pull off... once i knew where the files were, i fired up ZIP and let it go... it was very simple but without the "ancient knowledge", one would have lost everything on the drive. ZIP on the foobar machine pulled all those files and pushed them over a 9pin laplink serial cable to ZIP running on another machine under W98SE's DOS so that the FAT32 formatted hard drive could be accessed... the transfer ran at 115200bps (that's bits per second. roughly 11520 bytes per second) and took many hours to transfer the 400+MEGs of data over :o i couldn't use laplink due to the NTFS driver consuming too much of that 640k base memory that ole billie boy said would be enough for anyone ;) ZIP did its job in some 50k or so of memory whereas laplink wouldn't even load in less than 260k...

in this case, i didn't have to go as deep as i have had to in other cases in the past... i have had to go to the lowest layer of a disk with a hex editor (norton's diskedit for those of you oldtimers who remember those days) and manually recreate the partition table and the FAT (File Allocation Table) to access the data on the drive... in actuality, i didn't need to but things went much faster once i did because i was then able to use standard data recovery techniques after that... i remember one case where i recreated the partition table, rebooted the machine and collected my pay cause that's all that was messed up... that was a nice job, too... over $500 for about one hour of hard and detailed work... why so much? the slighest screw up could have lost everything with no hope of recovery ;)

the only way that i can see that they can truely disable your drive would also entail you loosing your data... that would be by writting zeros or something to the main sections of the drive like the partition table, the allocation tables, the mft and other areas where the pointers to the data are stored... but don't take my word for that... there's been recent news about the drive manufacturers also working with MS on this digital rights management stuff... its possible that they may be able to "lock" the access to the drive until some proper unlock code is presented... i dunno... that's some early, possibly wild, and somewhat educated guesswork there ;)

as others have said, get and keep good backups... also test those backups! there's nothing more heart rending than finding out that your backups are not worth the media they are stored on...


 5:07 am on Jul 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

If someone steals your stereo, does that give you the right to go to the thief's house and burn it down?

It should. When there are virtually no consequences for thievery, it encourages the corruption of society.


 2:32 pm on Jul 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

If it is true that SP2 for XP will have an aggressive technology embedded that "could" render a pirated copy of XP useless, then this is direct from the Microsoft "War Room"...
With actual competition starting to widdle away at Microsoft's market share and their stock price experience stagnation over the last couple of years (thus their aggressive dividend payout announcement of recent)...they will find every opportunity to retain their coveted market share and enhance their revenues...if this means possibly disabling thousands (millions?) of pirated XP systems...thus forcing the individual/company to actually purhase XP...well there's always Linux/Open Office/Firefox....

Firefox is just plain wicked cool..


 5:21 pm on Jul 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

how is this different from a kill switch in a car? if you steal it, the car disables itself. if you happen to be driving over train tracks when this happens and you get killed, how many people are going to blame the car owner?

Also, don't we all shake our heads at the thief who breaks into a house, gets bitten by a dog, and then sues the homeowner? well, if you pirate software and then lose your important files, isn't it the same thing if you turn around and sue Microsoft?


 6:59 pm on Jul 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

I also co-own a tech site; my "tech_site bla bla .com!"
partner has responsibility in running and moderating
that site
here is what he said

I took part in a deployment web seminar the other day.
It didn't come up. In fact there are tools for sys builders to reseal the activation so that the end user gets the full activation window.

The ReleaseCandidate2 is in download now, for the builders to start testing their image files. If it's packin', it should be pretty easy to verify.

But SP1 went a long way to curtail the open corprate keys that were out there, and about the time LongHorn launches M$ is hoping the CPU manufacturers will include code to kill the instruction sets for wonky software, so a self disabling SP2 would be a natural step, between the two.

Sounds like someone's trying to get a little rise with the word Trojan. I'm not sure that appplies here

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