Why physical access to a PC is so useful for a hacker

This content is 20 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

This week, I’ve been attending a (Microsoft-sponsored) training course, looking at Windows security. Now, what happens when you get a bunch of techies together in a room and talk about security? Exactly! We all start to think of ways around things. Like the classroom PCs with locked-down configurations…

…the guy sitting next to me (who will remain anonymous, as will the training provider) had a Winternals ERD Commander 2003 boot CD.

Using this, we were quickly able to reboot, launch the Locksmith utility and reset the administrator password to one of our choice, following which we had unrestricted access to the PC.

It was all just a bit of harmless fun within a classroom environment, but it goes to show why physical access is such an important part of a defence in depth strategy.

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