Hacking guide for high school laptops (Win 7) in China

I was digging through a pile of old documents and found this “hacking” guide typed up back in China, during those night study sessions at Chinese / International boarding high school. Good old days of doing whatever you can to get access to information and privacy.

In freshman year, the high school insisted to buy overpriced Lenovo laptops from them (it was cheaper to buy the same model from the market), even when most of students had their own personal laptops. They said I wouldn’t be able to take the exams needed to graduate, since the laptops came with (surveillance) programs needed to take exams.

But surveillance and privacy was not the issue. Everyone was being watched in China anyway. The main problem was freedom of information that is crucial to learning and completing homework. How are you supposed to turn in a history essay on anything when they are blocking keywords on flowers, major historical events and other random words that has nothing to do with subverting the government?

On top of censorships, the high school blocked access to command line / terminal, control panel on laptops to prevent installation of 3rd party software — perhaps as a security measure. That meant no VPN. There was a programming course and even a computer club, but you only had access to the tools in the lab, maybe 4–6 hours a week.

One thing high school administrators and governors should be aware of: where there is a need, and it’s not available, supply will be created somehow.

Everyone had the same laptop model, which meant computer parts could be easily swapped with some screw drivers and rudimentary knowledge of pc building. Anyone could swap the HDDs to share smuggled (read: torrented) sensitive information without leaving a trace, or lend one to a friend whose hard drive was broken. It also meant anything that could be done on one laptop, could be replicated to the entire school.

And that’s how and why the guide was made.

Guide to hacking [the high school] laptop

Last revised: June 2013. Tested on computers bought in 2012.

Gaining administrator access to computer

After this hack you can:

  1. Force shut the computer by holding the power button until the screen blacks out.
  2. Turn on the computer, and select ‘Start windows with safe mode with command’ by pressing down arrow keys and then hit enter.
  3. Weird messages will appear like in the Matrix movie. Wait for 3 to 5 minutes. Command window will appear. Write these commands one by one, pressing enter after each one.
  4. >net user /add whateveraccountnameuwant hereputpassword
  5. >net localgroup administrators whateveraccountnameuwant /add
  6. >net share concfg*C”:\\/grant:whateveraccountnameuwant,full
  7. To check if you’ve done it properly, write this command:
  8. net user whateveraccountnameuwant
  9. If local group membership is ‘Administrators’, you are good to go.
  10. (optional) If you are locked out because of admin password, repeat above steps plus:
  11. >net user whateveraccountnameuwant * /domain
  12. or… >net user whateveraccountnameuwant NEWPASSWORD

Accessing Command Terminal

After this hack you can:

  1. Open up Notebook (or other text editors).
  2. type in command.com
  3. or type in start command.com
  4. Save the file as cmd.bat.
  5. Double click on the file!

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r&d blog on architecture, software engineering and inspirations