A while ago I stumbled upon this issue. Doing my usual day-to-day stuff on the SharePoint farm, I entered the the Search Settings page under the SSP and instantly got a 403 Forbidden in my face. We had not experienced any problems with this earlier. So I looked around a little and the Profile Import page also showed immense weirdness:
I found some articles on similar problems but that did not help.
After trying a bunch of things I gave in and thought to my self: f**k it, I’ll just create a new SSP and configure search once again. Said and done I started creating a new SSP only to get a failure, but with some interesting info ”User cannot be found”.
This set me off in the right direction. After reading trough a enormous amount of ULS logs and a substantial amount of support case logs I finally figured out what caused it all.
When you install a new SharePoint farm the account used to do the installation is appointed as the owner of the central admin site collection. We did not use a specific installation account and the guy that did the installation for our farm had left the place a while ago. Hence the IT department locked his account and that is what caused it all.
So lessoned learned, always use a specific set up account!