If you didn’t already know it you should be aware that the password protection on your PC is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. There are things you can do to make it harder for anyone to get at your files, and we’ll come to that in a moment but first, at one time or another many of us forget our logon password. Faced with an inaccessible PC, some users resort to drastic action, like re-installing Windows.
There’s really no need, blanking the password using a special type of Linux boot disc is fairly straightforward. Cracking a password takes a little longer but again it’s easy enough if you know what to do, and one way is to use another Linux live CD boot utility called Ophcrack. Download the .iso file and use a utility like Imgburn to create a CD. Just boot the PC from the CD and watch it hack away at your password. Most times it only take a few seconds to crack a 4 – 6 character password otherwise it might take a few minutes but if you thought your PC was protected, think again, it’s scary stuff. More »
In order to preserve access to any encrypted data and stored passwords that a user might have, it is preferable to try and recover a user password rather than change or remove the password.
Windows 7 provides two ways to recover user passwords:
Password Hint A hint can be accessed on the Welcome screen. Ordinarily, the Welcome screen is displayed when the computer is started and no one is logged on. If someone is logged on to the workstation, ask him or her to log off. Click the user’s name to display the Password prompt, and then click the blue enter button to display the password hint. Hopefully, the password hint will help the user remember the password. If it doesn’t, you need to use a password reset disk. More »
I don’t want to make you any more paranoid about PC security than you already are (and yes, they are out to get you), but a report in Engadget suggests that a pair of Japanese students can hack WPA encryption, used on most Wi-Fi enabled devices, in around a minute. They have come up with a fancy new algorithm that, for the moment at least they’re keeping to themselves. It beats the previous record by some 10 – 15 minutes, making it a potential threat to Wi-Fi users. Details of the crack are due to be announced next month at a conference in Hiroshima, so it’s not in the wild yet, and even if it does escape, most users can protect their files by switching their WEP to AES (Advanced Encryption System) mode, or using the (so far) still secure WPA 2 system.
The disclosure of a back door allowing bad guys to repeatedly guess Gmail passwords should remind us all to protect our accounts with long and strong character strings.
There’s a straightforward way to protect your online accounts use signin phrases that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess.
The latest vulnerability affecting Gmail accounts was recently revealed by security researcher Vicente Aguilera Díaz in a posting on the Full Disclosure security list. (Aguilera previously revealed a Gmail flaw known as session-riding, which Google subsequently fixed, as reported by WS contributing editor Scott Spanbauer)
According to Aguilera’s new security alert, Google allows anyone with a Gmail account to guess another Gmail user’s password 100 times every two hours, or 1,200 times per day. No “captcha” keeps hacker bots from guessing passwords in this way. Worst of all: If a hacker controls, say, 100 Gmail accounts, 120,000 guesses can be made per day. Because Gmail accounts are free, many hackers control far more than 100 accounts, of course. More »
Put a “Pin Up” of the Folders You Use Most.
Windows® 7 allows you to “pin up” the folders you use most on your taskbar. Simply hold your mouse over the
favorite folder, right click, and drag it onto the taskbar. Windows 7 automatically pins itself to the Explorer Jump List. To open the folder, right click on the Explorer icon and select the folder you want.
Double-Up Your Windows.
When working within an application, sometimes you just want more of a good thing. To open another window of the same application (assuming the app can run more than one instance), simply hold
Shift and click the taskbar icon. You can also middle-click your third mouse button for the same result.
Clear, Crisp Display—It’s In Your Control.
Windows 7 makes it easy for you to adjust your display settings, making text and images easier to view in all the various locations where you work on your computer. Your laptop display may look fine at work but a little dark at home. Adjust the text and image settings easily with two snappy applets: ClearType Text Tuning and Display Color Calibration. Run cttune.exe and dccw.exe, or look them up in the Control Panel. More »