[Dshield] Fw: Microsoft's Super Hidden Files

Karen karenj at worldlynx.net
Thu Oct 24 02:43:12 GMT 2002

Microsoft's Super Hidden FilesDoes anyone on dshield use Microsoft?  Just in case, I'm forwarding this post from a friend of mine.

P.S.  Over the last two weeks or so, I think I've gotten over a hundred Zone Alarm alerts, most unusual for me.  Many from China, and Korea, and some of the strangest (using Neo Trace) seem to come from off shore (east coast) USA, and if I remember correctly they were registered to China or Korea, too!  Weird.  



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      Microsoft's Super Hidden Files 
            There are some files that defy detection on your computer
            This article started out to be about another topic, but when I discovered the information about these super hidden Microsoft files, I had to write about it. I suppose that many of you already know about these files but this was the first I heard about it and I figured that if I didn't know about them, many of you didn't either.

            Hidden on your computer are some files that contain all of the Web sites that you have ever visited. Every URL, and every Web page is listed there. Not only that but all of the email that has been sent or received through Outlook or Outlook Express is also being logged. The file names and locations depend on what version of Internet Explorer you have. If you are running IE version 4.0 or above, the file name is "index.dat". If you are running or have ever run IE prior to version 4.0 there are two files. One is named Mm256.dat and the other is Mm2048.dat. Microsoft has not supplied an adequate explanation as to what these files are for or why they have been hidden so well.

            According to Microsoft, these files are used to cache visited Web sites to help speed up the loading of Web pages in Internet Explorer. Obviously this cannot be the case because when you clear the Temporary Internet Files the "index.dat" files remain behind and continue to grow. If you delete or clear the Temporary Internet Files, there is absolutely no need to index the URL cache because those files no longer exist.

            On a Windows 9x computer these files are located in the following locations:

            \WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat
            \WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\index.dat

            As I stated earlier, these files can be very hard to find. If you are in Windows, even with "Show hidden files and folders" enabled, these files are not visible and cannot be found if you do a search for these files. The reason that these files are so invisible is that they are not just hidden, they have been designated as "system" files. System files and folders are treated differently in DOS and Windows and are effectively cloaked from casual searches.

            I am currently running Windows XP Pro and since there is no underlying DOS core, these rules do not apply and therefore with "Show hidden files and folders" enabled, I can do a search on these files and find them with no trouble. In Windows XP there are several "index.dat" files in these locations:

            \Documents and Settings\Default User\Cookies\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Default User\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Default User\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Default User.WINDOWS\Cookies\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Default User.WINDOWS\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Default User.WINDOWS\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Recent\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Cookies\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012001123120020101\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002010720020114\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002011420020121\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002012120020128\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002012820020129\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\MSHist012002012920020130\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
            \Documents and Settings\Bill\UserData\index.dat

            There is a very detailed explanation of these files and how Microsoft has managed to hide them so well by a person who calls himself "The Riddler". He goes into great detail and provides a lot of information on these super hidden files.

            If having these files makes you feel paranoid (and who wouldn't) there is a good little program called "Spider" that can find these files and delete them for you. There is also another good program called PurgeIE that can find and delete these files. Spider is freeware, PurgeIE is shareware and can be registered for $14.95.

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