Help me be evil

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My OS instructor is going to give us a "real world" assignment next week: trouble-shooting a PC that has stopped functioning correctly. We are use our knoweledge and skills to break the computer*, write up a work order explaining the general problems, then turn in those work orders to the teacher. She will then randomly assign each student one of the work orders, and we have to repair the corresponding PC.

There are some restrictions on what we can do to break the computer (see the * below), but we get the rest of this week to brainstorm ideas. I have a few ideas myself, but I want to get your input as well.

These computers are running dual boot Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 SP1 x86 with .NET framework 3.5

What do you say? Will you help me be evil?

* No rootkits, bootkits, or worms. The computer must be bootable to at least safe mode w/ networking. Any tools used to break the computer must be available to the repairperson as well. (e.g., if you download the Windows SDK to do something like alter a runtime, you cannot delete the SDK after the alteration).



How about deleting system 32?

Then just use a boot-disk to get everything back.
How about disconnecting the CPU heatsink's fan? Should be bootable until it overheats and halts... or catches fire.

Yeah, as if you ever "repair" a broken Windows. You don't. You wipe and reinstall it. But who knows, maybe I'm a dinosaur.
Take a screenshot of a desktop (with icons and taskbar), then set it as a wallpaper and remove all the icons and disable explorer.exe so there is no taskbar ;)
Break the dual boot system.
Mess up the partition scheme. Remove the boot flag, break up the OS into multiple partitions, etc.
closed account (ozUkoG1T)
Okay First block all input from the user then delete System 32 then create a loop for creating folders which will crash the computer then when they restore it with a Boot Disk.
Part 1: XP\7
Start -> Run -> "MMC"
File -> Add\Remove Snap-In
Click the "Add" button at the bottom of the window that pops up and scroll down to the "Group Policy Object Editor" Snap-in. Click "Add" and then "Finish" then "Close" and "OK". Expand the "Local Computer Policy" -> "User Configuration" -> "Windows Settings" -> Internet Explorer Maintenance" and double click the "Proxy Settings" icon. Check the "Enable Proxy Settings" box and set all of the fields below it to 127.0.0.1 (loopback), this will prevent them from going to any websites that you don't add to the "exceptions" field on the right side of that window. Remember to delete any other web browsers on the system. This can also be done through "Internet Options" but you should look around at the hundreds of other things you can break with the "Group Policy" Snap-In.
EDIT NOTE: This may have to be done on each partition.

Part 2: XP\7
Write a quick batch file name it whatever you want
1
2
3
:Here
Start %0
goto:Here

Under the XP partition save this under C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Under the Windows 7 Partition save it under C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

I also agree with unplugging the CPU fan (Don't remove it!) as that is one of those issues that is easy to overlook. If you want to break the dual boot you can do that through either "msconfig" or by manually editing "boot.ini" under the C: drive.


Part 3: XP
Write up another quick batch file and name it something, remember the name and the directory you saved it in
 
KILL -f explorer.exe

Then go to: Start -> Run -> regedit
Under "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution" look for a subkey labeled "taskmgr.exe" if it's not already there then create one. Create a new String value and name it "Debugger" double click on that and set the value data to the full path and name of the batch file you just created. Now every time someone tries to open up task manager it will close the explorer shell instead.
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Step 1: Buy strong magnet.
Step 2: Have magnet and hard-disk drive meet.
Thanks to all for the replies!

I was leaning toward custom batch files myself, including one that would stop taskmgr.exe whenever it was opened.

Catfish2 wrote:
How about disconnecting the CPU heatsink's fan? Should be bootable until it overheats and halts... or catches fire.

Yeah, as if you ever "repair" a broken Windows. You don't. You wipe and reinstall it. But who knows, maybe I'm a dinosaur.


For the latter statement, yes, a clean reinstall is the ultimate "fix-it-all" route, but I think that the purpose of this assignment is to use the methods we learned so far to avoid that option. My teacher has actually said that a reinstall is much like a nuclear option, and should not be the first thing we try in order to fix any problems.

As to the former statement, I am hesitant to mess with the fan for exactly that reason. Just how likely is the possibility of a fire?

several people wrote:
...delete system 32...


Computer must be bootable.

Computergeek01 wrote:
Then go to: Start -> Run -> regedit
Under "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution" look for a subkey labeled "taskmgr.exe" if it's not already there then create one. Create a new String value and name it "Debugger" double click on that and set the value data to the full path and name of the batch file you just created. Now every time someone tries to open up task manager it will close the explorer shell instead.


You had me at regedit. :)


How difficult would it be to code a file system driver that wrote any changes to a file to a temporary copy of the file instead? And on shutdown, all the temporary copies thus made would be deleted?







How difficult would it be to code a file system driver that wrote any changes to a file to a temporary copy of the file instead?

Short answer, too difficult to write compared to how easy it would be to detect and remove. Also if you can't use rootkits then kernel drivers are probably out as well.
1. Install Cygwin on XP || download and boot a Linux live CD
2. Run the command dd if="/dev/urandom" of="$disk" bs=512 count=1 where $disk is the main hard disk (probably /dev/sda or /dev/hda). This will trash the partition table. Remove the "bs=512 count=1" part if you want to trash the whole disk (but it will take a while).

(edit: never mind, you're not allowed to make it unbootable. Do it anyway. Alternatively get DBAN or flash the BIOS).

atropos wrote:
Just how likely is the possibility of a fire?

If the CPU was made in the last decade or two, zero. Modern CPUs have temperature sensors which decrease the CPU's clock speed as the temperature increases. If it gets above a certain threshold the CPU stops altogether.
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chrisname wrote:
never mind, you're not allowed to make it unbootable. Do it anyway.


For some reason, I read this in Morgan Freeman's voice.
Morgan Freeman: (silent, looking slightly above the horizon line, seemingly deep in thought)
"Never mind, you're not allowed to make it unbootable."
(pause a beat)
"Do it anyway."
and I laughed. A lot.
Send the computer through the wormhole with that guy and it might come back from a parallel universe where it is broken for you.
Install Windows 8, that should bugger it up enough.
Change it from dual boot XP/7 to dual boot Vista/8. They'll NEVER be able to fix it!
Install Windows 8


Ha!

If it has Windows 8 running on it then people won't care if it is broke

They wouldnt use it anyway ;)
MegaNewbie wrote:
They wouldnt use it anyway
It isn't nice to leave out the majority.
closed account (zb0S216C)
meganewbie wrote:
"If it has Windows 8 running on it then people won't care if it is broke"

Too right. Windows 8 shouldn't even be used on desktop PCs. Personally, I think it's Microsoft's idea of a contemporary OS -- where there's contemporary, there's horrid "modern" designs; Windows 8 is a primary example of this.

I don't see the need to replace Windows 7 with Windows 8.

Wazzak
They might have made a lot of improvements to the actual OS, but I agree, Windows 8 is horrible for desktops. For the Surface it might be really great, because it definitely looks like a tablet or smartphone OS, but I wouldn't want it on a laptop, let alone a desktop. Thankfully my notebook just missed the release date.
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