Win/SMB: Disabling Encrypted Passwords

Many Samba servers do not support authenticating with encrypted passwords. Windows, on the other hand, defaults to transmitting encrypted passwords. In order to connect Windows to a Samba server, either the Samba server must accept encrypted passwords (the configuration of which can range from mildly painful to near impossible), or Windows must send passwords as plain text (which poses a higher security risk).

For my home network and my Samba-based networked file shares, it’s frankly easier to just configure Windows to transmit plain text passwords.

Windows Vista and Windows 7:
Go to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Local Security Policy > Local Policies > Security Options and enable “Microsoft Network Client: Send unencrypted password to third-party SMB servers.” While you’re there, also change “Network Security: LAN Manager authentication level” setting to “Send LM and NTLM – use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated.” This works on the Business edition. These instructions should also work on the Enterprise and Ultimate versions, but the Home editions of Vista do not allow UI access to Local Security Policy and you’ll have to edit the registry manually.

If you have to configure the registry manually, start regedit.exe, and browse to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanWorkStation\parameters], and set “EnablePlainTextPassword” with a DWORD value of 1.

Windows XP:
Mostly the same as for Vista. Go to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Local Security Policy > Local Policies > Security Options and enable “Microsoft Network Client: Send unencrypted password to third-party SMB servers.” If you must configure the registry manually, follow the instructions for Windows Vista above. Some machines running XP SP3 with certain security patches (such as KB2536276 from June 2011) may be unable to connect with plain-text passwords to some Samba servers.

Windows 98:
Start regedit.exe, and add the following key with a DWORD value of 1 to [My Computer\HKEY Local Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD\VNETSUP\EnablePlainTextPassword].

You should reboot Windows after following any of the instructions above.

Author’s Note: No, I was not clairvoyant in 2002 — I added new notes for WinXP SP3 and added mention of Windows 7 during a 2012 revision.

I frequently find myself writing small How-To snippets like this one, not necessarily because I have a compelling desire to inform the public in general on some esoteric technology topic — more often than not, I simply can’t remember all the nitty-gritty details myself, so I write the instructions down here for me to remember.

We all benefit from my holey memory.

10 Years Prior to the Iraqi Conflicts

In 1982, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the State Department’s list of countries regarded as supporters of international terrorism. That action eliminated legal restrictions that would otherwise have prevented Iraq from receiving credit guarantees, enabling it to obtain credit for the purchase of US products and technology. The authorization enabled Iraq to obtain financing to import US food products, a significant benefit for a country that had experienced growing financial difficulties throughout the 1980s. Iraq’s economic difficulties resulted in part from its commitment to intensive and expensive civilian and military industrialization programs, a commitment which was maintained throughout and after the war with Iran.

The US government, fully aware that Iraq had active programs in the areas of chemical and biological warfare and missile development, was concerned about providing it with US technology. Nevertheless, a great deal of dual-use equipment and technology made its way to Iraq from the US throughout the 1980s, including missile research and information on explosives and propellants research and production. Iraq additionally procured tens of thousands of artillery projectiles and warheads designed to hold chemical agents through a convoluted and deceptive supply chain.

The Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs described the government of Saddam Hussein as “one of the most brutal and repressive in the world”, based partially on the use of chemical weapons on its own people. Throughout the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Reagan administration chose to give priority to maintaining US-Iraq relations over concerns about Iraq’s use of chemical warfare. In March of 1984, the United States publicly condemned Iraq’s almost daily use of chemical weapons. However, Iraq continued its use of chemical weapons against Iranian forces throughout the war.

The issue became more problematic for the Reagan administration, however, in the Spring of 1988, when Iraq engaged in poison gas attacks against Iraqi Kurds in the village of Halabja. In August 1988 the Iraqi Government carried out a second wave of chemical attacks on Kurdish villages on the Turkish border, prompting the US Senate to pass the “Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988”. Intense lobbying of Congress by the Reagan-Bush White Houses and a veto threat from President Reagan convinced the Democrat-majority House of Representative to defeat the bill, citing expanding trade in rice and other grain between US farmers and Iraq, the desire to contain Iran, and unwillingness to antagonize Turkey.

The Bush administration became a particular focus of criticism because it followed its predecessor in making strengthened US-Iraq relations a key objective, despite the fact that the end of the Iran-Iraq war had eliminated a major rationale for this goal. A transition paper prepared for the new presidency outlined the conflicts that characterized existing policy toward Iraq. The paper recommended assigning high priority to US-Iraq relations because of Saddam Hussein’s potential as a “major player,” but reviewed persistent divisive issues, including Iraq’s chemical weapons use which “aroused great emotions” in the United States, and its “abominable human rights record.” These negative factors were contrasted with Iraq’s value as a financial market and its potential as a trading partner, and with the fact that it shared an interest with the US in containing Iran. Secretary of State James Baker personally intervened to promote strong ties with Baghdad, asking the Commodity Credit Corporation to increase its Iraqi funding by $1 billion during 1989.

On August 4, 1989, the FBI and other agencies raided the Atlanta branch office of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), one of Italy’s largest banks, whose shares were almost entirely owned by the Italian government. Informants had revealed that the bank had provided massive off-the-books loans to foreign countries, including Iraq. The loans had far exceeded the bank’s lending limits and were recorded in a parallel accounting system rather than in its official records. The branch office had not only handled a major portion of US agricultural credit guarantees for Iraq; it had also provided financing for exports of non-agricultural products.

In addition, the managers had signed a series of agreements obligating the bank to provide $1.155 billion in loans to Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Military Production, a government organization that was in charge of Iraq’s efforts to obtain western technology for military research and development programs, including those involving chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and missiles. The total amount of unauthorized credit transactions between BNL and Iraq exceeded $5.5 billion, concealed by BNL employees through document falsification and fraudulent financial reporting. George Bush still signed National Security Directive 26, committing the administration to strengthened ties with Iraq.

Despite the commitment of the Bush administration to maintaining political and economic relations with Iraq, sustaining that relationship became increasingly difficult. On December 5, Iraq launched a rocket capable of conveying satellites into space, although the space launch vehicle failed in an intra-stage collapse. US officials immediately began to discuss increased efforts to control technology exports to Iraq, and also began discussion of Iraq’s efforts to expand its chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

It took Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 for President Bush to issue executive orders to freeze all Iraqi and Iraq-controlled assets in recompense for the state’s $2 billion in defaults. Five years later, Iraqi officials revealed a failed plan to liberate highly enriched uranium controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency from two reactors at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Center near Baghdad soon after the Kuwaiti occupation.

Two administrations, blinded by the economic potential of a solid US-Iraq relationship, supported Saddam despite well-documented involvement in humanitarian atrocities, corruption, and technological espionage. While I hesitate to assert that the United States “created” Saddam Hussein as he exists today, both administrations were naive in their machinations and in their support of his regime.

Author’s Note: Links to better sources and updated, more-legible documents were added during a 2012 revision.

Remove MSN Messenger

Are you tired of seeing MSN Messenger pop up on your Windows XP system? As usual, in an effort to continue its course towards domination of everything, Microsoft has made it difficult to remove. But it is possible! The following method works in Windows XP Professional, but has not been tested on a system with SP1 installed. FYI, I’ve seen scripts that are similar to this, but fail miserably, automatically deleting other much-needed components! Better to do this slow and manually! As always, I am not responsible for the use or the misuse of this information; use at your own risk.

  1. Exit MSN Messenger by right-clicking the MSN icon in the notification area, and selecting Exit.
  2. Add the following registry entries, both with a DWORD value of 1:
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftMessengerClientPreventRun
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftMessengerClientPreventAutoRun
      1. Open a command prompt by clicking Start/Run, then typing “command” and clicking OK.
      2. Uninstall MSN Messenger by typing

        rundll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %systemRoot%INFmsmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove

      3. Uninstall the leftover installation information file by typing

        rundll32 setupapi,InstallHinfSection BLC.Remove 128 %systemRoot%INFmsmsgs.inf

      4. Allow MSN Messenger to be displayed in the Add/Remove Windows Components dialog in the future (if it pops up again!) by typing notepad.exe %systemRoot%INFsysoc.inf and deleting the word “hide” from the line that starts with “msmsgs=”. It MAY be possible to skip to this step directly and perform the uninstallation directly from the Add/Remove Windows Components dialog, but that method MAY leave unwanted components and has not been thoroughly tested.
      5. Cross your fingers and reboot! You will probably get a message asking you to confirm the removal of some leftover files. Click OK.