Introduction to Novell Netware

Novell Netware is a server based operating system for networks. Unlike Unix and NT, Netware isn’t an all in one program. Let me explain. Netware itself runs on top of a version of DOS. The version that you might be familiar with is MS-DOS as this comes with Windows 95 and 98. Novell uses DR-DOS. This is very similar to MS-DOS and even uses the same sort of commands. When a Netware server starts up, first it loads up DR-DOS (also known as Caldera DOS because Caldera wrote it). Once DOS is started, Netware is loaded which then sets up the server itself. Once this has been done, the server is happily sitting on the network and awaiting requests. Netware has two main admin areas. First is the console and second is NDS.

What is the ‘console’ and ‘NDS’?

The console is kind of like a DOS prompt. It takes commands in the same way as you’d expect and it looks almost the same to. The prompt though (the bit before you type in your commands) is somewhat different. In MS-DOS, you might get a prompt like this:


|	|

|	This bit is the directory you are currently in. Here, you can see I'm in the

|	Windows directory. Netware doesn't have this and I'll explain why a little later


The 'C:\' shows the current drive. Netware has something like this but it doesn't 

actually show you what drive you are in. Again, I'll explain this later.

You’ve seen what the MS-DOS version is like. Here then is a sample from a Netware server named “Gandalf”.


The console is designed simply for managing the server itself. Not the files or its users as can be done with an NOS (Network Operating System) such as Linux. Commands entered here affect only the server that is in the prompt. In this case, only server Gandalf will be affected by my commands.
You can run or ‘load’ programs into the server in the form of NLMs ( Netware Loadable Modules). These can be seen as plugins for the server. Once run, the program will automatically be set-up. I’m mentioning this now because some of the best hacks require software to be loaded in at the server. I’ll cover this later though.
The console can also be access from another computer using a piece of software called “RCONSOLE”. This is a DOS based program so you will need to be able to run DOS programs on your machine. Many Admins disable this on user accounts and only have it active on Admin accounts. Even if you can run RCONSOLE, you will still need a password to access the server. Most servers are left at the console so no logging in is necessary. However, servers tend to be well guarded!

NDS (Netware Directory Service) is where all the user and file information is stored. It is usually referred to as the “NDS Tree”. You could easily compare it to a telephone directory. The NDS Tree holds all the information about a network. From the individual workstations to the users to the servers and the files stored on them. Because everything in general is managed through NDS, this is really the kind of access you want. Console access is useful (you can kick people you don’t like off the server) but having the ability to alter anything on the network is much more fun.
The program that you need to access the NDS Tree is called ‘nwadmn32.exe’. This is usually available somewhere on the system because it isn’t directly a security risk. If you load it as a normal user, you will only have rights to alter some parts of that user such as the password. You may not be able to touch other peoples information but you can usually read it. I’ll come back to this later on.

How do I know if they’re running Novell?

This is an easy one. Before you can use any machine on a Novell network, you must login. Novell like to show everyone just how good they think they are and splash their name and their stupid red ‘N’ logo everywhere that they feel they can get away with. This includes the login screen.
If for some reason you don’t have this on your login screen but you still think that you are on a Novell network, take a closer look at the login screen. Most networks now use the latest client which supports contextless logins. Although this sounds complicated it isn’t. Normally when you login to Novell, you must tell the server what ‘context’ you are in. This lets people have the same user names. For instance for me to login to Gandalf I’d need to supply :

This is a short one. Many go much deeper than this and have six levels or more! Problem is humans aren’t too hot at remembering these long login names. For this reason Novell brought out contextless logins. You pick an option from a drop down menu then fill in only the user name. For instance :

Context : Server Admins
User : miggyx
Passwd : ******

Instead of :

User :
Passwd : ******

Basically it was all done to make users lives easier. This option never appears on Unix or NT systems because they don’t support multiple user names and thus context is irrelevant. If your system has this on the login screen, you definitely have Novell Netware.

I’m still not sure if I’m on a Novell network. I have a normal user account. How can I check with this?

Yes you can and if you have a real account, it will make your life a lot easier. It is easier to hack a system that you have some access to than to start from scratch. Login and see if you have a little red ‘N’ in the taskbar. This is Novell’s little Admin tool for the user themselves and it has a few interesting properties too which I’ll cover later. If you have this ‘N’ you are definitely on a Novell network. However some mean Admins turn off the nice little ‘N’.
You can also right click on a network drive. A network drive is a directory on a remote computer that has been made to look like a hard drive on your machine. You’ll find these in ‘My Computer’. Right click on them. In this menu, there will be several entries with the red ‘N’ next to them. Again this is a dead give away that you are running on a Novell network.

Hmmmm….. I don’t have an account. What are the usual accounts and passwords and how do I find a valid account?

Well, there are quite a few standard user names and passwords that are used on Novell networks. However not all of them are used and sometimes not one is used. This list comes from the Netware Hack FAQ and I’ve found it to be quite comprehensive :

Account Purpose
PRINT Attaching to a second server for printing
LASER Attaching to a second server for printing
HPLASER Attaching to a second server for printing
PRINTER Attaching to a second server for printing
LASERWRITER Attaching to a second server for printing
POST Attaching to a second server for email
MAIL Attaching to a second server for email
GATEWAY Attaching a gateway machine to the server
GATE Attaching a gateway machine to the server
ROUTER Attaching an email router to the server
BACKUP May have password/station restrictions (see below), used for backing up the server to a tape unit attached to a workstation. For complete backups, Supervisor equivalence is required.
FAX Attaching a dedicated fax modem unit to the network
FAXUSER Attaching a dedicated fax modem unit to the network
FAXWORKS Attaching a dedicated fax modem unit to the network
TEST A test user account for temp use
ARCHIVIST Palidrome default account for backup
CHEY_ARCHSVR An account for Arcserve to login to the server from from the console for tape backup. Version 5.01g’s password was WONDERLAND. Delete the Station Restrictions and use SUPER.EXE to toggle this account and you have an excellent backdoor.
ROOT Found on Shiva LanRovers, gets you the command-line equiv of the AdminGUI. By default, no password. A lot admins just use the AdminGUI and never set up a password.

Some of these are used quite a lot of the time. ROOT is a good example because it also ties in with superuser access on Unix and Linux servers. Having a user called root is quite common now. Accounts by the name ‘Admin’ , ‘Administrator’ and ‘Manager’ are in common use to.

How do I find out if an account is valid?

This is surprisingly easy. Type in the username you are trying to check. Type in any password unless you know it ( if you know the password then the account is obviously valid) and press enter. You will likely get an error message back. If the message says something on the lines of “Invalid password” or “Unknown Error” followed by a number , it is a fair bet that the account exists. If you get the Unknown Error message, it is likely that the account is there but has been locked out. This is also a cunning way of locking out someone’s account who you don’t like.

How do I lock out my enemies accounts?

Well, this is particularly easy to do. Most Admins for security have a limit on how many times someone can login incorrectly before the account gets locked out. This is usually set to 5 times. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Type in your friend /enemies login name.
  2. Put it an obviously wrong password. Anything will do.
  3. Hit ‘Enter’.
  4. The computer should bounce back with an error about an invalid password. This is what we want so keep going.
  5. Repeat from stage three until the server comes back with an unknown network error.

Once you get the unknown network error, you have successfully locked out the account. It won’t work again until an admin manually unlocks it. This could mean a disabled account for hours or even days. Snik snik!

Is there an easy way to get Admin access?

This only works on Netware 3.*. You use a program called NW-HACK.exe . A nice little program that sits and waits till an Admin logs in and then creates a nice account for you with super user access. You will be able to find this program on the Internet but I’m not going to spend much time on it because it has a full set of docs with the program itself.

What about the Net Plug attack?

This is an attack that I worked out myself before I was given Admin status. It always works and I’ve yet to see it fail. Make sure you are at a windows 95 or 98 machine. I doubt NT would be fooled by this trick but I don’t have any NT machines so I can’t test it for you.


Note : Most Admins, believe that they are the most knowledgeable about their system. Many also believe that no one else knows much about computers. In other words, for whatever reasons, they are not too concerned about us i.e. the idiots attacking their servers. Why? Because we aren’t good enough. So why waste valuable time configuring security that won’t be needed eh? I think I’ve made my point. They don’t see us as a threat. You don’t consider a house spider a threat so you don’t go round putting up netting to keep them out. Why? You can’t be bothered. The same rule applies here. Even if you are a computer genius, play it dumb. Admins like to lecture the uninitiated and would love to appear smarter than you. This is the way you want it. The Admins will think you’re a nice guy or gal, totally harmless. This sometimes gives you more leverage because they like you, they’ll be willing to help you. They also won’t expect you to launch a huge assault on their servers either However sometimes there are some smart people out there who will notice your talents and pull you over to their side. This isn’t a bad place to be and can be advantageous later.


First of all, login as yourself. Crash your computer and reset it . Walk over to your favourite admin (the one that hates you most is the best choice ) and apologise for being an idiot but the computer won’t let you login and could s/he please come and take a look for you. Mumbling and grumbling they’ll come over. The best way to test if it is the machine is for them to login. Of course, they’ll log in as an admin or equivalent. They’ll check your account and see that your account is fine. They’ll tell you to log onto another machine and your account will be okay. They’ll now log off and walk off in disgust thinking you are a computer moron. Not so my friend, we’ve just done them good and proper!

Turn off the computer and pull out the network lead. Turn it back on again. The computer will detect that you aren’t on a network and will dump you at a desktop with restrictions of the last user. If this user is the admin then chances are that he or she will have full access to everything including DOS and drive access. Perfect for installing all those really kewl programs you have on a disk in your pocket…

But you aren’t on the network now. That’s no fun is it? Shove the lead back in and try to access a network drive. This is the bit where you hope the Admins are sloppy or not computer geniuses. Windows by default caches ALL passwords so unless the Admins have told it not to ( a key deep in the registry) then windows will have a nice copy of their password. Go into ‘My Computer’ and click on a drive. Whoop with glee as Netware logs you in as an Admin. Why does this happen? Well windows still holds the username and password last used to access the drive. You are logged into windows as Admin and windows knows what credentials you last gave to the server. So it supplies them for you. Likewise because you are now authenticated you know have full access to the NDS tree. Not only can you read but you can no write, modify delete etc etc. Much more fun!

Now, this is the bit where you have to be sneaky. You have to make a new account for yourself or upgrade your old one. There are pros and cons to each of your choices. If you alter your existing account and they check it for some reason ( maybe you got locked out? ) they’ll notice you have admin rights and shoot you. If you make a new user, it might get found quicker but there is no way to point to you ( it was created by user admin after all tee hee ). The choice is yours. You can always do both.


What’s a backdoor and is it useful to me ?

A back door like the name suggests is a way into a system without going through the front door. The front door being the proper way in. Your backdoor will give you full access (or whatever it was set-up to do) without anyone else knowing about it.
It is useful to you because it gives you a lot of power and anonymity. People won’t know that it was you that deleted that account or altered your reports. You’ll be like the ghost in the machine. Invisible and all powerful. Doesn’t that sound wonderful to you?

Once I’m in, can I leave a back door?

Yes, there are many different ways of leaving a back door and may different things a back door can be designed to do. Firstly, the most powerful backdoor is the one that gives you full access to an entire system. Unfortunately, these are the hardest to set-up (unless you did my Net Plug trick) and the Admins aren’t blind. They’ll notice that a new admin account has appeared. Unless of course you hide it. This isn’t all that easy but it can be done. The second type of backdoor gives you access to the server (like rconsole). These aren’t as powerful but they still have the ability to run things like the ‘down’ command. The ‘Down’ command shuts the server down and dumps it at a DOS prompt. Another powerful command is the load command. This sticks programs into memory. Unfortunately all but the most stupid Admins log the console.

Leaving an Admin level user in the NDS Tree

This is the best way of hiding a user in the NDS Tree. Most Admins have only been on the CNA (Certified Novell Administrator) course so won’t have the expertise to locate the user even if they did think that it existed. Even if they have a CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) they aren’t likely to find your user because not only don’t they know where to look, they won’t know your user is there. The best crimes aren’t ones that you can get away with without being caught. The best crimes are ones that the victim doesn’t even know have happened.
Anyway, here is what you have to do :

  • Get logged in as Admin or equivalent ( Use the Net Plug trick )
  • In NWADMIN highlight an existing container.
  • Create a new container inside this container.
  • Create a user inside this new container. No home directory.
  • Give this user full Trustee Rights to their own user object.
  • Give this user full Trustee Rights to the new container.
  • Make this user security equivalent to Admin.
  • Modify the ACL for the new user so they can’t be seen.
  • Adjust the Inherit Rights Filter on the new container so no one can see it.

I’ve not had the chance to really test this in the field. It worked for me but whether or not it won’t be detected in the field is another matter. It works fine in theory though.

Okay, now how do I leave a backdoor into the server itself?

This is a lot more difficult because you have to run a program on the server itself. You do this by using the load command. It will automatically load the program from the SYS: directory. You’d have to copy the files to this directory first. Because this dir is filled with NLMs, it will be a lot harder to locate your new program as a rogue. Problem is actually running it. As I said before most Admins run the console logging program called CONLOG. So now what? If we try anything it will be logged won’t it? Sure, unless we turn off the logging program first tee hee. Type “unload conlog” without the quotes. This will stop logging console activity. Next type “load magicfile.nlm” with the name of your program and without the quotes. Next type “load conlog” again without the quotes. Loading up conlog is the last thing that you do before leaving the server.
Some Admins run a program called “Secure Console”. This stops you from loading any more programs. The only way to get round this is to use the unload command again. However it is password protected. You can get past this too but it will take some guts to do and it will take out the server for a few minutes. Are you ready?

  1. Type “Down” at the prompt. If there are any users logged in, it will warn you. Press Y to continue or N to cancel. Pressing Y will cut them off. Any system that is on the Novell network will report to its users that the server is going down. Try to do this at the end of the day when all the clients are turned off or when you’ve got a chance to reset them before someone sees the message
  2. Turn the machine off
  3. Wait a few seconds
  4. Then turn it on again
  5. Run outside and wait for the server to come back up. It is not a good idea to get caught with the server in this state.
  6. When the Admins rush in to find out why their precious server bit the dust, their last concern is whether secure console is running or not.
  7. When they leave, wait a few minutes before going back in.
  8. Go to the console and turn off the console logger
  9. Run your nasty little program
  10. Turn the logging program back on
  11. Walk out of the room as a super user.

The program itself will not show up in the logs ( because you stopped logging before you ran it ). When they shut the server down, the program will not longer be resident. However, if you are taking the risk to run this program, make sure you also run something that will catch the rconsole password. Admins hardly EVER change this. They are far more careful with the NDS password and see no reason why anyone would be able to find or to use their little rconsole password. Once you have the rconsole password you don’t really need a backdoor.

Accessing servers drives that you shouldn’t be able to see

When you are using Novell, you have your home area mapped as a network drive. You can’t press ‘Up’ to go higher because it will just take you to my computer. How do you get around this and why would you want to?

Well, most Admins don’t login to everyone’s user account to check that they are set-up correctly ( I know I wouldn’t bother going through 1000 different accounts in the unlikely case that one of them is messed up). If they aren’t set-up correctly, you might have access to other peoples home areas. Thing is though, how do you get there? You can’t see higher than your own directory.
First of all, you have to find out what server you are connected to. This is pretty straight forward. Okay, go back to ‘My Computer’. Right click on a network drive and hit properties. It will tell you what server it is mapped on. I’ll use GANDALF as an example. My home directory is mapped to F:, however the real location of my home directory is \\gandalf\data1\users\yr12_990\miggyx\ . Now, I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t checked the properties. Admins usually assume you won’t know or won’t bother looking. The server name directly follows the ‘\\’. Go to the start menu and select run. Type in the server name. In my example this would be \\gandalf.

What if those pesky Admins have removed the Run command? Not a problem. Minimise all the windows so you are looking at your desktop. Right click and select New -> Shortcut. When asked what it should shortcut to, type in ‘\\servername’. Press ‘Enter’ a few times. You should get an icon on your desktop. Click this twice and it will pull up the server. Simple but effective. A word of caution though. Delete the shortcut after use using shift+del. NEVER use just the delete option. If you choose just to delete the file, it will go straight to the recycle bin. Sometimes users don’t have access to it and so can’t remove the file themselves. This is when those friendly Admins come along and see a nice shortcut to their server with your name on it. Not a good thing to be doing. Shift + Del removes the file directly. This also bypasses any logging software running on the machine itself. The Admins won’t be able to get to the file assuming they know it exists in the first place. Best to play it safe.

Once you have access to the server itself ( albeit only as yourself and not as an admin unless your admin is really stupid), you might be able to browse around. For instance, I still had read access to everything in the \\gandalf\data1\users\yr12_990 directory. I could go in a read everyone’s work ( although I couldn’t write to it) and pass it off as my own. Also, you’ll be able to access some of the system directories. In here you’ll find useful tools such as rconsole, fconsole nwadmn32.exe and others. Running nwadmn32.exe as yourself only gives you your own rights to the NDS tree.

The NDS tree ( Netware directory Service ) contains everything on the entire network. Even if you’ve got very limited access, you will still see the whole tree. This includes the usernames for the Admins and all the services they are running. You may even have some ability to alter users in your group. It all depends on how your system is configured. Either way it can be a powerful information tool. Usually you can see everything but alter nothing. This is still useful. For instance, say there is this gal you really like and you would kill for her phone number and address. Why go through all the hassle? Most Admins stick all information about a user into their network. It makes sense really. Load up nwadmn32.exe ( they can’t restrict this because it would restrict all windows programs and that would be really stupid) find her username and click twice. Bang, you can see all her details. Sure you can’t actually alter them but you can read can’t you?
You should also be able to happily browse through the directories that you can see. Even if you aren’t logged in as an Admin, it is likely you can find some fun files to play around with. If they need DOS access, you’d better log in as an Admin. If you’ve read the above, you should be able to get Admin status.

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