New tool enables loading of unsigned drivers in Vista

Use at your own risk.

A new software tool has been released by Linchpin Labs that allows the loading of unsigned and legacy drivers on Windows XP, 2003, and most importantly Vista.

One of the system management and control methods that Microsoft implemented with Windows Vista is requiring system drivers to be digitally signed before they will load properly within the system. If a user or administrator wishes to load an unsigned or legacy driver, they will either need to reboot into a limited functionality mode or just do without the functions that the driver would have provided.

As others have pointed out, this step will do nothing to prevent malware authors from being able to load their drivers into the system. Either they will exploit the lax jurisdiction and corporate oversight of various countries to establish a corporate shell and gain legitimate digitally signed driver certification, or they will just exploit weaknesses in already-signed drivers.

View: Full Article @ El Reg

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13 Comments

Unlikely. Just because you might be able to load the driver now, it doesn't mean that it will work as you need it to. That is MOST likely with audio, since Vista has an entirely new model for routing the audio paths, etc. If you aren't able to get drivers working for audio now in Vista (I thought everyone had released audio drivers now - what are you still having trouble getting working?), this tool is unlikely to magically give you Vista audio.

Just like I had a hard time finding drivers for my new laptops. The hardware of course is 6 years newer, but I did manage to find decent drivers for WindowsXP, because I instantly detoxed my machine from that Windows Vista. Now, I'm able to emulate & run my stored game image files using my virtual rom emulators. D-Tools was not able to run most of my old stored game files in Windows Vista.

Although, this might be good news for those who really need to use legacy drivers in XP or Vista, it is bad news in general. The number one reason for unstable systems and BSOD's is poorly written device drivers (yes, even those written by some of the big boys.) This will merely encourage that trend, not deter it. Unscrupulous dev's will also doubtless find a way to peddle all sorts of mayhem through that mechanism that would otherwise require an end user to accept first.

I welcome this. I have 4 or 5 unsigned drivers that are the only ones available for vista x64 (hardware is between 1-3 years old tops).
Not long ago speedfans driver was unsigned for vista x64 (I've been doing F8 disable driver signing and other workarounds I can't remember)
No matter what some smartass thinks about how this and that is going to prevent more exploited zombies, worms, viruses etc, those of us who do know what we are doing, which used to be the majority back when I started using computers, will only get ****ed on and have our user rights taken away to help the losers who don't know better and probably shouldn't be installing drivers themselves in the first place anyway.
This goes for all the later day "improvements" MS has made or pretend to be forced to make: half-open connections cap, the whole PMP stuff with HDCP, (AC3/DTS passthrough in vista x64), UAC in vista, MS antispyware, WMA DRM, genuine advantage, activation and driver signing enforcement.
I'd add kernel patch protection but I don't know enough about it to say if it's all bad.

The point is, every "protection" they have ever come up with has failed, yet they still keep stacking all these failed techs on top of eachother, destroying useabillity little by little until there is nothing left but two big yes and no buttons and a 3d rendered directx 58 pixelshader 14.0 dog on the side that farts when you hover the mouse over it.

The article is partially wrong.

1. Vista 32-bit doesn't have this problem. You can use unsigned drivers the same way as on XP (which means you only get a warning).

2. On X64, you CAN use unsigned drivers, it's just that you need to press F8 every time you boot windows and use the option "allow unsigned drivers" or something like that. Yes it's very annoying because I often forgot to do it...

Does NO ONE look up facts before posting things?

Windows XP, 2003, and Vista - both 32-bit and 64-bit - all allow unsigned drivers.

NO, you don't need to hit "F8" on every boot with 64-bit Vista either.

On 64-bit Vista, this command lets you use unsigned drivers all you want: "bcdedit /set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS"

I don't see the point of a tool that lets you do what the OS already lets you do.

Again, Windows XP/2003/Vista have always allowed unsigned drivers.

The only issue I know of is supposedly the August 14th 2007 patch for Vista 64-bit may prevent installation of unsigned drivers.

That only worked in the beta and RC, they removed it in RTM. (You can still use the command but it wont do anything.)

abe2000 said,
That only worked in the beta and RC, they removed it in RTM. (You can still use the command but it wont do anything.)

This is NOT true.

I've used unsigned drivers for my TV card under Windows Vista Business x64.

I got a prompt that the drivers were unsigned, but the card worked fine, just like with 32-bit Windows.

My web site has the 64-bit TV card drivers:
http://xenomorph.net/?page_id=287

The INF/drivers were modified by *me*, they are *not* signed, and they installed fine under 64-bit Vista after using the command I posted.

What I don't understand: what was the gain of signed drivers?

If the signature was a seal of approval, like the WHQL seal, rather than a mere verification that someone believes them to be authentic, it might matter.

But all I can tell is that it means that a lot of decent apps from small vendors (Core Temp, for example) don't work right on x86-64, but anything nVidia or HP can vomit onto a disc and pay for a certificate for will be allowed.

Hak Foo said,
What I don't understand: what was the gain of signed drivers?

If the signature was a seal of approval, like the WHQL seal, rather than a mere verification that someone believes them to be authentic, it might matter.

But all I can tell is that it means that a lot of decent apps from small vendors (Core Temp, for example) don't work right on x86-64, but anything nVidia or HP can vomit onto a disc and pay for a certificate for will be allowed.

this is exactly how it works.

rock solid, stable drivers full of wonderful features will be BLOCKED by the OS because they didn't PAY Microsoft to get them signed.

but buggy, beta, unstable, data-corrupting crummy drivers will be happily allowed by the system if you pay Microsoft to sign them.

i learned about this back in 1998. Diamond Multimedia would release "official" driver packages for their Monster Fusion card that were based on a beta driver that introduced stability and performance issues to the system and lacked features. unofficial reference drivers put together by 3dfx and modified by end users (like me) would be more stable, perform better, and offer more features than the official drivers.

the most recent driver issues i've seen have been from HP, as you've already mentioned. some of their printer drivers trigger DEP over and over resulting in blank pages being printed.

Microsoft is doing a dis-service to customers by claiming signed drivers are the way to go.

it is very true that poorly written drivers are a major reason of stability issues with Windows. newer drivers, or drivers that the *community* have deemed good is the way to go - and not a system having some sham where Microsoft has the company pay to get the stamp of approval on drivers.

just because a driver is signed doesn't mean it is better than an unsigned driver.

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