World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Security Account Manager

Article Id: WHEBN0000545859
Reproduction Date:

Title: Security Account Manager  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Directory System Agent, Encrypting File System, NT LAN Manager, ReactOS, Active Directory
Collection: Access Control Software, Microsoft Windows Security Technology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Security Account Manager

The Security Account Manager (SAM) is a database file[1] in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 that stores users' passwords. It can be used to authenticate local and remote users. Beginning with Windows 2000 SP4, Active Directory is used to authenticate remote users. SAM uses cryptographic measures to prevent forbidden users to gain access to the system.

The user passwords are stored in a hashed format in a registry hive either as a LM hash or as a NTLM hash. This file can be found in %SystemRoot%/system32/config/SAM and is mounted on HKLM/SAM.

In an attempt to improve the security of the SAM database against offline software cracking, Microsoft introduced the SYSKEY function in Windows NT 4.0. When SYSKEY is enabled, the on-disk copy of the SAM file is partially encrypted, so that the password hash values for all local accounts stored in the SAM are encrypted with a key (usually also referred to as the "SYSKEY"). It can be enabled by running the syskey program.[2]

Contents

  • Cryptanalysis 1
    • Removing LM hash 1.1
    • Related attacks 1.2
  • See also 2
  • References 3

Cryptanalysis

Since a hash function is one-way, this provides some measure of security for the storage of the passwords.

In the case of online attacks, it is not possible to simply copy the SAM file to another location. The SAM file cannot be moved or copied while Windows is running, since the Windows kernel obtains and keeps an exclusive filesystem lock on the SAM file, and will not release that lock until the operating system has shut down or a "Blue Screen of Death" exception has been thrown. However, the in-memory copy of the contents of the SAM can be dumped using various techniques (including pwdump), making the password hashes available for offline brute-force attack.

Removing LM hash

Most versions of Windows can be configured to disable the creation and storage of valid LM hashes when the user changes their password. This is the default setting in Windows Vista, but was disabled by default in previous versions of Windows. Note: enabling this setting does not immediately clear the LM hash values from the SAM, but rather enables an additional check during password change operations that will instead store a "dummy" value in the location in the SAM database where the LM hash is otherwise stored. (This dummy value has no relationship to the user's password - it is the same value used for all user accounts.)

Related attacks

In Windows NT 3.51, NT 4.0 and 2000, an attack was devised to bypass the local authentication system. If the SAM file is deleted from the hard drive (e.g. mounting the Windows OS volume into an alternate operating system), the attacker could log in as any account with no password. This flaw was corrected with Windows XP, which shows an error message and shuts down the computer. However, there exist software utilities, which, by the aforementioned methodology of using either an emulated virtual drive, or boot disk (usually Unix/Linux) based environment to mount the local drive housing the active NTFS partition, and using programmed software routines and function calls from within assigned memory stacks to isolate the SAM file from the Windows NT system installation directory structure (default: %SystemRoot%/system32/config/SAM) and, depending on the particular software utility being used, removes the password hashes stored for user accounts in their entirety, or in some cases, modify the user account passwords directly from this environment.

This software has both a highly pragmatic and beneficial use as a password clearing or account recovering utility for individuals who have lost or forgotten their windows account passwords, as well as a possible use as a malicious software security bypassing utility. Essentially granting a user with enough ability, experience, and familiarity with both the cracking utility software and the security routines of the Windows NT kernel (as well as offline and immediate local access to the target computer) the capability to entirely bypass/remove the windows account passwords from a potential target computer. Only recently, Microsoft released a utility called LockSmith, which is part of MSDart. MSDart is not freely available to end-users, however.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Security Account Manager (SAM)". TechNet. Microsoft. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "How to use the SysKey utility to secure the Windows Security Account Manager database". Support. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 

This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.