Hackers Saw Plank, Microsoft Ship Drops

    August 1, 2005

Within hours of the release of Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), hackers decided to flip off Microsoft with a single, simple line of javascript that promptly turned off the WGA and turned on laughter in hacker circles around the globe.

The WGA requires Windows users to verify that are using a certified copy of Windows in order to download most updates excluding security patches. Many hackers obviously took this as a personal challenge and less than a day after the release of the anti-piracy system, hackers began shivering Microsoft’s timbers.

The simplicity of the hack was absolutely brilliant. The system requires users to download an ActiveX control, which determines whether or not the copy of Windows is cool. All the user needs to do is drop the line of javascript into the address bar on Internet Explorer before the WGA complete itself and the line promptly turns it off.


There were two other ways to shut down WGA as well. One involved going to the “Manage Add-ons” feature in tools header in IE. When the menu comes up, simply pick the WGA and mark the disable setting. The other looks to involve changing a cookie.

This really goes to show a much broader problem with the whole anti-piracy movement. In many cases, with a brief amount of searching, it’s fairly easy to come up with not only a copy of whatever software you like, whether it’s Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop or the newest copy of Civilization.

While Microsoft says this isn’t security issue, in the broader sense, it’s exactly that. Individuals could promptly disable features Microsoft required in order to verify authenticity. It may not be a security problem directly to the consumer, but it’s a security problem for Microsoft.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.