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Scott's Column
Script Kiddies, Windows 2000 & Linux

Decmber 1, 2002
By Scott Lewis

This past month has been filled with getting my 67 Camaro back on the road. However, I have been playing with Linux (I will have a dedicated article soon) and I have been booting my machine all kinds of way. Plus I discovered a little about people running attacks on my computer.

Shoutcast and Script Kiddies

While running Shoutcast to listen to my music at work, I have noticed that a lot of script kiddies are trying to "attack" my system. For those of you that don't know... script kiddies are a semi harmless group of people that try to crack into computers on the Internet. They are called script kiddies because they basically find scripts on the Internet that they can run without knowing much more than how to run these pre-written scripts. 

Basically they are wannabies. They wannabie a real cracker (not to be confused with hacker, people that like to experiment on computers to see what they can and can't do). They don't know how to do it themselves so they download a script and just run it. Any "Kiddie" can do it is how they got their name.

I know that I am being attacked by these script kiddies because my Shoutcast log is filled with entries like this:

Invalid resource request(/scripts/root.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/MSADC/root.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/c/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/d/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%255c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%c1%1c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%c0%2f../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%c0%af../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%c1%9c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%%35%63../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%%35c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%25%35%63../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)
Invalid resource request(/scripts/..%252f../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir)

I see this same exact set of "commands" in my log from dozens of different IP addresses (the source of the attacks, maybe... more in a moment). Clearly there is not a lot of imagination going on here. However, it is possible that these script kiddies have used these scripts to attack someone that is not protected. The IP addresses in my logs may be of computers that have been compromised by a script kiddie. This makes it a little more difficult to catch the kiddie.

If I contact the ISP of the "attacking" IP address, they may only find out the computer was infected with a Trojan horse or some kind of virus. Besides, it would be time consuming. In the past I have found that ISPs are not that interested in tracking down these "minor" infractions on privacy and security. That's a shame.

With a little resource and some diligence a lot of these kinds of attacks could be stopped. Think about it. Just setup a couple of hundred computers on the internet that run software that sees if one of these scripts is trying to "attack" it. Then just simply contact the ISP and have the user's account disabled. If they repeat the offense under a new account then press criminal charges. All it would take would be a few good examples of kids going to jail for "computer trespassing" to stop this kind of nonsense.

If I won the lottery I would consider doing this. Think about this... if I can think up an easy plan to stop these kiddies, then a professional security person should be able to figure out how to take my idea a few steps further and stop the real crackers and put an end to DoS and Virus attacks. It would only take resources to get the job done. And I bet it would add up to a lot less resources than it takes to fix the problems these crackers & kiddies cause.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! OK, time to get down from my soap box.

Windows 2000

I have been running Windows 2000 Professional for a little while and love it. It has been completely stable and does everything an operating system should do... which is run my programs without fail, while making it easy for me to keep my files organized.

At this point I don't see any reason why anyone needs Windows XP. This should frighten Microsoft. I am sure it will be easier and easier for people to get an old copy of an OS and build a killer computer around it. My computer is going on 5 years old and runs just fine. If Microsoft continues with its activation scheme in XP, and its invasive practices I have to wonder how long the public will put up with it. It may not mean much today, but as more and more people NEED more than one computer in their home and learn more about how to setup a computer themselves... look out Microsoft.

Whoops, I thought I already got down from my soap box. I'll try to be nice.

Windows 2000 (Nice version)

Win 2K has been running quite well. I have been installing software as I need it. I have gone a month and a half (as this gets posted) without needing MS Office on my computer. I have used FrontPage (part of my copy of Office 2000) to update this web site from my wife's laptop. I will probably install FrontPage only on my Win 2K desktop. But I don't need to do it.

I have not had time to test my games under Windows 2000. I see that as the only stumbling block to using Windows 2000. As a business oriented operating system game compatibility was not high on the list of requirements. But it is proving good enough so far. I will report more when I get a chance to test some games.

Free Software Computer

I mentioned in the past my desire to try and run a computer from nothing but free software (Win 2K not withstanding... if it ends up as my permanent OS). Toward this end I have setup my computer to boot many operating systems. I am using Partition Magic with its Boot Magic. I setup my hard drive with multiple partitions. Each partition gets its own operating system. I then use Boot Magic to decide which operating system I to run when the computer starts up.

As this "goes to press" I have 5 OSes running on my computer. 1) Windows 98, 2) Windows 2000, 3) Windows XP, 4) Mandrake Linux 9.0, and 5) Red Hat Linux 8.0. I installed Windows 98 on the first partition on my hard drive. This is in case I need to disable Boot Magic. When I disable Boot Magic it restores booting of the machine to the first partition on my drive. I made this Windows 98 because I can easily boot from a floppy and access the files in that system and even reload it in case of a disaster.

Windows 2000 is my default OS. This allows my family to power up my computer and use it easily. I share my drives and printer through Windows 2000. I hope to eventually be able to share my drives and printer under every OS running, and all the other computers on my home network will not know the difference.

Back to the free software PC. For my experiment I am clearly breaking the free approach using Partition Magic. But I will not consider that when I am done, for a couple of reasons. First, I could have partitioned my drive with FDISK or something. It would have been a nightmare trying to get one partition active at a time to facilitate all the installs, but I think it could have been done if I planned the partition sizes out properly in the beginning (I did not as the case was, and needed Partition Magic to adjust the sizes as I went along). Next, I don't really need Boot Magic. Mandrake's and Red Hat's booting software each saw all my Windows partitions and could have booted them. However, I prefer using an independent booting application so I can have more control. Finally, when I am done testing I should be able to setup my computer with my preferred operating system and forget about all these partition and booting issues. Partition Magic stays for now, but I will not consider it when I make the final determination to build a free software PC.

We'll see how many applications I end up needing that are not available for free.

Free & Games

Of course there are games that I pay for, but I would do that no matter what. In fact, I think this is the biggest problem with Linux (or any other operating system). Games make up half of the software industry. If there are not enough COMPELLING games for a system (be it Mac, Linux, whatever) then that OS will have a very hard time making serious headway into the desktop market.

If you don't believe me talk to any Linux fan that is also a SERIOUS GAMER. Ask him what games he plays, and under what OS. Windows! He may say Linux is better, but if he wants to play games he will still have Windows on a computer somewhere.

A note to Michael Roberts: if you want people to switch to Lindows then stop touting your Click-R-Run Warehouse for its games. These games are mostly simple freeware games (yes you have TuxRacer Deluxe, and Doom which is years old). Though they may be fun and even addictive, they will never match EverCrack... er... umm... I mean EverQuest or Warcraft or Half Life. If you want Lindows to take off you should partner up with a few key game developers to incise them to port their games to Linux. Blizzard would be my first choice since they already port to the Mac. Are you listening, Michael?

Conclusion

Well that's it for this month. I plan to try and get some time playing about with Linux and even writing an article dedicated to it. But the most important thing for me to be doing right now is get back to driving my 67 Camaro Convertible.

Until next time...

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