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 »

The revised Vesik method involves typing nonsense characters into a password input box when using a public PC and then rearranging some of the letters to form your actual password with the mouse. If the PC contains a hardware keylogger or is infected with a software keylogger, rearranging a password in this way will usually suffice to obscure your credentials. Most hackers will concentrate on the 99% of users who type in their passwords at Internet cafés in the usual way.

One proposal sent in by many, many, many readers was a variation on a single theme. Namely, keep your sign-in information on a USB flash drive or memory stick, then copy and paste the info into the appropriate fields when you’re required to use a public PC or other unsecured computer.

Unfortunately, many keyloggers capture any information you place into the Windows Clipboard. I tested the copy-and-paste technique using the All In One Keylogger from RelyTec. (For more info, see the vendor’s site.) The program easily captured the sign-in IDs and passwords entered, whether I used the standard menu options (Edit, Copy and Edit, Paste) or the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V.
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This second and final part of our quick tour through the world of portable applications will focus mostly on programs that are not necessarily needed by the common user, but may come in handy in certain situations or to the more experienced Windows fans.

Compressing and decompressing files may be a very easy task, but things change when you have to use another computer that doesn’t have a compression utility installed, so here are some of our suggestions. You can try using the trial version of popular archivers WinRAR and PowerArchiver, or consider giving 7-zip, IZArc2Go and PeaZip a go, which are free for both personal and commercial use.

An organizer is not very helpful if you need to access your agenda from more than one computer. To overcome this inconvenience, feel free to install any of the following portable organizers and personal information managers: Sunbird, EverNote, EssentialPIM Pro, Avignon Concept or MSD Organizer. More »

How many times has this occurred? You find a great web site, but it requires an account before you can access the site. So you create the account, password and secret question and let FireFox remember the account information. Time goes by and your at work or on another computer, and decide that you want to visit that great site, but can’t remember the password.

Sure you can have the site email your password, but it also wants you to answer the secret question. Now what? Time to dig into FireFox Password Manager….

Just go to Tools, Options and click on the Security Tab then click on Show Passwords (version 2.0 shown below) or View Saved Passwords (version 1.5 not shown) button. More »

Firefox offers a way to delete selected pages from both your browsing history and your address bar history while retaining everything else.

To delete an entry in the address bar’s dropdown menu of recently visited pages, point to the item with your mouse, but instead of clicking it, press Delete.

To edit your browsing history, press Ctrl, H to open the History sidebar. Right-click the page you want to remove and select Delete. If you want to delete a bunch of pages, all adjacent to each other (as they will be if they’re from the same site), right-click the first one and select Delete. When it disappears, the one below will be highlighted, and you can just press Delete on the keyboard until they’re all gone. More »