Security Hole Or Sysadmin’s Savior?

NTFSDOS saves the day.
It started like any other Monday. We were all logged in to the NT server, and the SMPS
fans were humming a soothing lullaby. All looked fine with the world, and work on this
very story was on in full swing. And then it happened-out of the blue, the NT server (4.0)
for some reason stopped responding. Despite repeated frantic efforts, the server refused
to reload. The whole story was in the server. Sure we had taken backups, but what about
the work done over the weekend? What about what was added during the day? And the deadline
was looming ahead of us.

It was time for NTFSDOS to come to the
rescue.

Though the name sounds complex, the program
isn’t. In fact, it’s a very easy-to-use utility that doesn’t take up too much space
either. And its role-to read the NT File System! To use the program, it has to be copied
on a DOS bootable floppy. Then boot the machine on which NT is installed using this
floppy. After this, just run the program from the command prompt and voila-it
automatically searches for NTFS partitions on the machine, mounts them, and assigns them
drive letters. You can now read the NT partition just as you would read an ordinary FAT
partition. The only limitation there is that it allows read access only. You can’t make
any changes to it. You can, however, copy files off the NTFS partitions.

Curious, we tried to see whether it would
be able to read the file system of NT 5.0. It read the file system of the Beta copy that
we were running without any problems.

Coming back to the story, using NTFSDOS, we
copied all the necessary files from the server. Now is that a security hole in NT or an
opportunity for the sysadmin? Guess that depends on which side of the fence you are on!

And if you are wondering what happened to
the NT server after that. Lets just say that someone at PCQ Labs has a magic touch because
as soon as he turned the machine on, the operating system loaded as if nothing had ever
happened. Miracles do happen!

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