OK, so here goes after a lot of trial and error:

background: My client recently took over another firm. However, apparently the administrator passwords to the server (along with some other non-IT stuff) hadn't been passed on. And now i'm charged with the task of re-gaining administrator privileges.

So, we have multiple user accounts in an AD environment. The ones accessible are very restricted: we can only add/change printers and log off. We can open a single directory on the D: drive and put files on the desktop. I can create a shortcut to cmd and regedit, but i can't make registry modifications or execute a net user command to change the administrator password. I also can't check the password with ophcrack. The annoying bit is that i can't get any of the livecd tools to work either (though i have physical access to the server if it's really necessary).

In summary, I have a very limited account from where i want to "break into" the admin account.

  • The answers to a similar question over at ServerFault may be helpful: Administrator Password lost for a Win 2003 Server machine – Xander Sep 16 '13 at 19:56
  • I tried that liveCD, didn't even boot... Tools like ophcrack did... But ophcrack couldn't load tables (or find the disks array) – QuintenVK Sep 16 '13 at 20:18
  • Does one of the many google search results help? petri.co.il/… – NULLZ Sep 17 '13 at 0:17
  • That requires the local admin password, so no, that one doesn't help either. Trust me, I googled a lot as you may tell from my OP :) – QuintenVK Sep 17 '13 at 7:17
  • You need to work out why the liveCD wouldn't boot. That's not an issue with the admin password. – Cybergibbons Sep 17 '13 at 11:07

If, as you mention in your answer to AJ, you do not need to recover any data from the machine, then simply wipe it and rebuild.

(The good sysadmin would replace the disks first and put the old ones in the back of the safe, because a good sysadmin never believes anything a user tells them.)

  • 1
    Thanks for your comments. We're migrating this server to ours soon, this was supposed to be a fix ad interim. I also don't even think this firm has a safe for these things... I joined them only recently as their sysadmin, and there's a long way to go :-) – QuintenVK Sep 17 '13 at 10:18

Your best bet is to find the administrator password. Most of the LiveCD stuff is just to overwrite the local credential store, not to deal with ActiveDirectory (which is much more secure). Even if you manage to reset the user, it will force the encryption keys to be reset and if the admin user had used encryption on any files, they will become inaccessible.

  • The administrator probably doesn't have any useful files (since the previous owner left months ago and we haven't really missed files since then). We just need admin privileges to view event logs and fix printers, regular stuff. – QuintenVK Sep 16 '13 at 20:10

protected by Gilles Oct 17 '14 at 9:11

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