Questions tagged [windows]

Related to security concerns specific to the Microsoft Windows operating system itself. For security of applications that happen to be running on Windows, please use [appsec]. For the X Window System, please use [x11].

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295 votes
7 answers
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What's the rationale behind Ctrl-Alt-Del for login

Why is Ctrl+Alt+Del required at login on certain Windows systems (I have not seen it elsewhere, but contradict me if I'm wrong) before the password can be typed in? From a usability point of view, it'...
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  • 2,879
196 votes
11 answers
35k views

Search for military installed backdoors on laptop

My laptop was confiscated by the military institute of my country and they made me to give them all my passwords (I cannot tell you the name of my country). They did not give it back to me for one ...
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  • 1,781
195 votes
4 answers
53k views

How does Windows 10 allow Microsoft to spy on you?

Windows 10 is perhaps the most Internet-connected and cloud-centric operating system released by Microsoft to date. This, of course, has caused many users to be concerned about how the OS respects ...
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133 votes
14 answers
30k views

Is a Windows installer that doesn't require admin rights dangerous?

I use Atlassian SourceTree on Windows, and one thing I like about it is that it doesn't require admin privileges to install or update. I happened to mention this to our ISSO (Information System ...
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  • 1,307
132 votes
19 answers
47k views

Is it common to allow local desktop and/or active directory admin access and rights for developers in organizations?

I work at a company with a staff of about 1000+. We currently have programming development staff that work on web based projects (approx 50 people). Recently due to security concerns our IT and ...
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  • 1,309
124 votes
8 answers
20k views

Are there technical differences which make Linux less vulnerable to virus than Windows?

What makes Linux so different than Windows in terms of anti-virus needs? My question is not if I should get an anti-virus for my Linux. I perfectly understand why an AV is important. I would like ...
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104 votes
2 answers
32k views

Can a rogue .wmv file "hijack" Windows Media Player?

I've downloaded a .wmv file using P2P. Attempting to play it with Media Player Classic (K-Lite Codec Pack) only gave me a green square in the playback window: I noticed that the video came with a ...
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  • 1,027
93 votes
5 answers
31k views

Why do you have to be an admin to create a symlink in Windows?

In linux every user can create symlinks, but in Windows I need an admin command line, or mklink fails. Why is that?
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  • 1,106
81 votes
2 answers
9k views

Windows language pack update with a gibberish name

This morning, I noticed that a new Windows update was offered to me. It looks very suspicious to me: Here are the update details: ...
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  • 4,762
77 votes
9 answers
21k views

Is it theoretically possible to deploy backdoors on ports higher than 65535?

Assuming you were able to modify the OS/firmware/device for server/client to send and listen on ports higher than 65535, could it be possible to plant a backdoor and have it listen on, say, port 70000?...
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  • 3,086
72 votes
3 answers
12k views

Strange code running at startup

A piece of code was running on my Windows machine at startup. I would like to know exactly what this code is doing; it seems to refer to something like crackbook? @echo off if %...
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69 votes
4 answers
509k views

How do I clear cached credentials from my Windows Profile?

Windows seems to be saving my credentials for a variety of applications (terminal servers, etc) and I'd like to purge this data. How can I backup and purge this data?
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66 votes
3 answers
15k views

Why does Windows store Wi-Fi passwords in a reversible format?

Running netsh wlan export profile key=clear in PowerShell will dump your current stored Wi-Fi settings, including the password, into xml files inside of whatever directory you are currently in. Why ...
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  • 741
66 votes
1 answer
7k views

What's the risk if I accidently type my password into a username field (Windows logon)?

I'm used to logging into my personal Mac which is a password-only field (like waking from sleep mode). Sometimes I have to use a Windows network on which I have an account, but of course I have to ...
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  • 3,192
65 votes
5 answers
105k views

What can an attacker do with Bluetooth and how should it be mitigated?

What are the security risks of Bluetooth and what technologies and best practices should be used to protect my device? What can an attacker do once a malicious device is paired with mine? ...
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64 votes
3 answers
65k views

How does the Windows "Secure Desktop" mode work?

Can anyone explain (or provide a link to a simple explanation) of what the Windows "Secure Desktop" mode is and how it works? I just heard about it in the KeePass documentation (KeePass - Enter ...
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63 votes
2 answers
12k views

Does removing a GUI from a server make it less vulnerable?

Lately, I was watching an online video about Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and in one of the videos it says "removing GUI from Windows server makes it less vulnerable." Is that true? ...
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  • 1,607
60 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why does Windows Ship with Expired SSL Certificates?

I am cleaning up the certificate stores on my Windows machines, and considering which certificates I should keep, and which ones I should delete. Why does a fresh install of Windows Server 2012 R2 ...
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  • 949
57 votes
5 answers
171k views

Can I determine if my computer has a key logger installed?

A friend of mine just started a job at a security sensitive company. They've provided him with a laptop with Windows XP Professional installed. He's heard a rumor from other employees that the laptops ...
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  • 671
51 votes
8 answers
21k views

Why am I allowed to access protected Windows files when I boot Ubuntu from USB?

How come I'm allowed to reboot a computer that I don't own, put in a USB, boot ubuntu from it and then access all files stored on the drives available (even critical files such as system files on C ...
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  • 697
51 votes
3 answers
11k views

Can USB drive infect my PC with malware if I don't allow any autorun.inf to run?

Assuming that I'm using a trusted USB flash drive (meaning that it's not some device that looks like a USB drive and whose purpose is to damage my PC), is it possible for my PC to get infected from ...
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50 votes
6 answers
38k views

Create a unterminable process in Windows

I am a student, and am genuinely curious about unterminable processes in Windows. For educational purposes, I would like to create an application (possibly in VB6?) which cannot be terminable by a ...
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45 votes
7 answers
12k views

Does a virus need to be clicked on to function?

Can a virus infect my Windows XP operating system by its mere presence? I mean, if I copy/paste a virus on my computer and I never click on it, will it infect my computer or will it remain dormant, ...
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44 votes
4 answers
129k views

how to import a private key in windows

Say I have an X.509 cert and a private key that corresponds to it. I can import X.509 certs easily enough into Windows but what about private keys? Is the only way I can do that by converting both ...
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  • 1,607
42 votes
4 answers
9k views

Should one buy new hardware after a system compromise?

If there are places on a laptop malicious programs can leave elements, hooks, backdoors etc, in locations such as BIOS, device controllers, firmware etc - what confidence can one have in wiping the ...
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  • 379
42 votes
2 answers
15k views

How secure is the Windows 8 included Anti Virus known as Windows Defender?

How secure is the new Windows 8 anti virus known as Windows Defender? Does it have a protection against malware which uses UAC bypass/process injection/rootkits/process persistence/running the binary ...
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  • 589
36 votes
6 answers
10k views

On Windows boxes, is patching for Spectre and Meltdown necessary?

From what I've read, Spectre and Meltdown each require rogue code to be running on a Windows box in order for attacks to take place. The thing is, once a box has rogue code running, it's already ...
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36 votes
4 answers
6k views

Is my data safe if, with an encrypted hard disk, I put Windows in "sleep" mode

Both my boot partition and my data partition are encrypted with TrueCrypt. My password is lengthy, so I find myself avoiding a reboot of my system whenever possible. When going to lunch (for instance),...
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35 votes
6 answers
5k views

How do I purge Windows of my private data when formatting the drive is not an option?

I'm changing my employer, and I'm about to leave my office computer. Due to internal regulations and my supervisor's orders, I'm unable to format the disk drive. I was hoping I would be able to do ...
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  • 3,309
35 votes
5 answers
15k views

Why can't Windows 98/IE5 connect to HTTPS sites in 2015?

Recently I found an old installation CD for Windows 98 Second Edition, and looking for a bit of a nostalgia kick, I installed it inside VirtualBox. Win98SE shipped with IE 5.0, and browsing the web ...
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  • 2,025
33 votes
6 answers
35k views

How secure is NTFS encryption?

How secure is the data in a encrypted NTFS folder on Windows (XP, 7)? (The encryption option under file|folder -> properties -> advanced -> encrypt.) If the user uses a decent password, can this ...
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  • 1,247
33 votes
1 answer
4k views

What are the privacy and security implications of Windows Telemetry

There have been quite a few news stories relating to the use of "Telemetry" in Windows 10 (and also now Windows 7/8) with suggestions that users would want to disable or remove these updates due to ...
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32 votes
1 answer
11k views

Is it possible to change original filename of an exe?

We are using an application control solution which denies access for some exes according to their original filename. Is it possible to change original filename with hex editor or another method?
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  • 437
30 votes
6 answers
5k views

What is the point of making a complicated PUBLIC password?

I have downloaded a couple of Virtual Machine images from http://modern.ie, in order to test different versions of Internet Explorer. When running these images, a complete Windows environment is ...
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30 votes
6 answers
16k views

How can normal files hide a virus?

How can normal files supported in the Windows operating system hide a virus? Sometimes opening a .txt , .jpg or .docx files leads to running a virus. How is this possible?
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30 votes
1 answer
2k views

Are shatter attacks still possible in the days of User Interface Privilege Isolation?

Before Windows introduced User Interface Privilege Isolation, any application could send all kinds of window messages to any window on the same desktop (a shatter attack), allowing elevation of ...
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  • 2,491
29 votes
4 answers
25k views

Checklist on building an Offline Root & Intermediate Certificate Authority (CA)

Microsoft allows a CA to use Cryptography Next Generation (CNG) and advises of incompatibility issues for clients that do not support this suite. Here is an image of the default cryptography settings ...
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29 votes
2 answers
25k views

Something is changing my hosts file without asking

First: I can't find any information on this phenomenon, not anywhere on the net. I don't know which application does it, but something in my Windows 7 Home Premium system (fully updated & legal) ...
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28 votes
5 answers
7k views

Is a password-protected stolen laptop safe?

Let's assume I have a Windows 10 computer and my login password has an entropy of infinity. If I did not encrypt my entire hard-drive, does it matter how secure my password is? Is it possible for ...
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  • 809
27 votes
4 answers
109k views

Windows Firewall - how to block inbound for all .exe files in a folder

In Windows Firewall with Advanced Settings I can create a rule which blocks all inbound or outbound traffic for particular program by pointing to its .exe file. The problem is that this program has ...
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27 votes
3 answers
6k views

Can Windows malware harm a Linux computer when it's executed with Wine?

I am an (Ubuntu) Linux user. Sometimes, I have to use Wine for running Windows executables. I would like to know if Windows malware (virus, trojan, worm,...), i.e. malware that was not intended to ...
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  • 3,882
27 votes
4 answers
4k views

How Do Rootkits & Other Low-Level Malware Still Manage to Load on Systems Protected by Secure Boot (and TB/MB)?

Let me try asking my question this way... Let's say that I'm a offensive cyber Bad Guy working for a foreign state-sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat unit. My unit is charged with, say, stealing ...
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26 votes
5 answers
6k views

How can a non-admin program cover your entire screen with a window?

This year, since many students are online, College Board (the company that administers AP Exams in the US, along with the SAT) recently released its Digital Testing App. Once installed, and going ...
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  • 361
26 votes
4 answers
5k views

Do my Windows system binaries contain sensitive information?

I have a dataset from a malware detection project that others want to use. Part of that dataset is system binaries that I had retrieved from my PC by searching for *.exe files (to serve as a benign ...
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26 votes
3 answers
2k views

Stack Overflow is www.doioig.gov/? If not, then could I be infected

Great! I made a post recently where I mentioned that my system might be infected. Now something new came up. When I search for Stack Overflow on Google, I see that the URL is www.doioig.gov/. When I ...
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26 votes
4 answers
20k views

Is it possible to detect a honeypot? [closed]

Do techniques exists to know if a machine is a honeypot (or suspicious indicators)? What techniques can be used for a software inside the honeypot or outside it? What techniques uses malware to ...
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  • 263
26 votes
3 answers
4k views

Are .dll files normally found in system32 but now in a user’s AppData folder always suspicious?

I recently had to read over some malware reports and associated logs for a confirmed malware detection and subsequent infection of a Windows asset. The logs clearly show .dll files in a user’s AppData ...
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  • 7,639
24 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why aren't applications sandboxed in Windows?

Sandboxing seem to be a way to restrict what an application can do. Today, I don't have much control of what my applications do with my computer. It feels more secure to use JavaScript based web ...
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  • 5,053
24 votes
3 answers
5k views

Java SE 8, Update 51 Added "Native Sandbox" Protection for Windows PCs. Wait, what?

So I was doing a little research about differences (if any) between the sandboxing models for Windows 8/8.1 applications and windows 10 applications when I stumbled across something rather interesting:...
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23 votes
3 answers
7k views

How to bypass password on Windows XP account? [closed]

I have an old ThinkPad R40 family laptop running Windows XP lying around and there's an account on it that has a password and it gave me a hint and I put everything I could possibly think in there and ...
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