Reporter Packet Storm
`Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 13:22:20 -0600
From: Paul L Schmehl <pauls@UTDALLAS.EDU>
Subject: BIOS Backdoor Passwords
I've been out of the office since posting the comments about the
ineffectiveness of BIOS passwords, and I returned to find (to my surprise)
numerous requests for information about this.
Rather than respond to each individual's request, I'll post the information
here. If someone has further questions after reading this, feel free to
email me personally, and I'll attempt to respond to you individually.
(IOW, I am not responding to those of you who emailed me prior to this
post. You will have to email me again if you want personal assistance.)
Most BIOS manufacturers have backdoor passwords. These are not OEM
backdoors, but BIOS backdoors. They aren't publicized (for obvious
reasons), but any experienced PC hardware technician is aware of them.
(And so are a number of students/hackers/crackers/etc.)
For example, AWARD BIOS can normally be "cracked" with AWARD_SW, AWARD_PW
or j262 (these are all case sensitive.) AMIBIOS and Phoenix also have
backdoors I'm aware of. (I'm sorry, I've forgotten them now - no point in
remembering something which only points out the obvious - don't rely on
BIOS passwords if security is important to you.)
I should point out here if protecting the BIOS from tampering (in student
computer labs for example) is important to you, by all means use them.
Just don't be foolish enough to think *some* students won't know how to
enter and alter the BIOS to their liking. As with all locks, BIOS
passwords will keep the honest people out but provide no protection against
As far as URLs for the info, a search for "BIOS passwords" will reveal all
you need to see to convince you of the ineffectuality of depending on BIOS
passwords to protect your systems. Not only is the information freely
available, but there are many cracker programs designed to break in to the
BIOS of any system.
I shouldn't have to point out the obvious - if it's on the web, your users
know about it, and some will use it.
Here's a few URLs to get you started: