Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

9/26/2010

Windows Password Recovery Tools

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:44 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Remember, these are “administrator utilities” not “hacker tools”.

In my business, it pays to make the distinction.
When people call me for help outside the office, the calls usually fall into a couple categories; a virus, a slow computer, a lost password and “how do I do X?”  Sadly, I’ve been doing a lot of virus and spyware removal, but, also, lately, I’ve had a couple of “lost password” calls.  I actually love getting those, for a couple reasons.
First, lost passwords are surprisingly easy to recover if you have physical access to the machine.  It’s funny to me how few people get that.
Secondly, I find recovering passwords fun.  In a way, it was one of the first things that drew me into the business.  I was one of those guys who got hooked by the security bug not by War Games, but by Sneakers.  Yeah, I know, most guys my age especially will tell you it was War Games that really got them hooked.  What can I tell you?  I’ve always been kind of a late bloomer.  And, my dirty, little secret is that after seeing Sneakers, I wanted to be Marty Bishop.  Seriously.

Anyway, my recent experience with Windows password recovery requests gave me an opportunity to refresh my tools.  After Googling a bit, I found a handy About.com page titled “Top 6 Free Windows Password Recovery Tools“.  I downloaded several, most of which were based on bootable CDs of one kind or another.  I like those kinds of toolkits because they don’t require even limited access to operating system, just the ability to reboot the machine from the CD toolkit.
In the end, I tried two; 0phcrack and the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor.

Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that 0phcrack is the free, opensource fork of l0phtcrack.  Now, for an old-timer like me, l0phtcrack was THE password cracker to have, back in the day.  Created by a group of well-known hackers, some of whom famously testified before Congress, it was not free.  At least, theoretically.  If you knew where to look, you could get copies.  And, yes, I  them.  But, this version IS free and seems like it had some improvements.
For one thing, the old version had a slightly clumsy text-based interface.  This version has a much nicer interface that seems to use X-Windows.  It’s also far more intuitive to use.  It ran pretty fast, really, though, sadly, didn’t seem to be able to crack the non-dictionary word used as a password on the Windows 7 box I was using it against.

On the other hand, the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor has been around for several years, and had several updates, though it retains the text-based interface.  I don’t remember when I used this the first time, but, so far, it hasn’t let me down in a pinch.  This time was no different.  So, yes, even though it has “NT” in the name, I’ve used it on everything from Windows 2000 through Windows 7 without a hitch.  Of course, your results may vary.  The bonus of this product is also it’s most potentially dangerous drawback; it directly edits the registry and password files.  This is dangerous, in a way, because if something goes wrong, this could, theoretically, lock you out of your machine permanently.  In practice, this has never actually happened to me.
One advantage of this utility is that you can change or simply remove the password for any active user on the system.  Also, you can use it to promote an active user to being an administrator equivalent.  Now, by “active user” what the developers mean is any account that is not disabled.  Though, I think there may be the option to activate a deactivated account.  I’m not positive, though, because I’ve never had to look for it or try to use it.  And, yes, this worked like a charm to simply blank the password on the Windows 7 machine that had apparently forgotten its own password.

So, there you have it.  Two tools to recover lost Windows passwords.
Oh, and, just a quick disclaimer here.  I’m not responsible for any damage you might accidentally do to your machines with these utilities.  Nor am I advocating using them to break into your ex-spouse’s computer to read their adulterous e-mail to their lover.
I’m just sayin’….

9/24/2010

Word Games

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I likes me some games!

I would imagine many of my readers do, too.  Also, I suspect that you all are more than a little fond of words, as am I.  So, naturally, when I stole this link, er, saw this link on another site, I knew you’d love to see it, too.  The site is called Word Games and that pretty well sums up what that site is all about.

Hey, it’s Friday and if you were reading this, you obviously weren’t working anyway, so you might as well check it out!

9/17/2010

Real Life Superhero Project

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Right, who didn’t want to be a superhero when they were a kid?

Whether it was Batman or Superman or Spiderman or, yes, even Wonder Woman, surely, anyone my age and younger wanted to be some kind of superhero when they were a kid.  Those costumed crusaders inspired us all, to some level, as kids, didn’t they?  Well, apparently, some of us never grew up because, yes, there are still people dressing up in costumes trying to inspire people.  In this case, it’s the Real Life Superhero Project.

They all have different motivations, but they all share some common ideals and, of course, they all have costumes.  The site says it started as a gallery and has become a much larger project.  From it’s tone, it seems like they’re almost trying to be a Justice League or Avengers kind of team, though maybe not so organized or unified in their fight against crime.  Not sure if they’re gaining popularity since Kick-Ass was made into a film or not, but I wonder how they’d do fighting, you know, actual crime and actual criminals.

Well, I’m not going to start hatin’ on a Friday, so, go check it out for yourself and see if you think they’re for “real” or not.

9/10/2010

DIY Mini-Softbox

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, that’s not some collapsible shipping container.

It’s camera equipment!  Why pay huge money for a little, tiny softbox for your hot-shoe flash when you can just make one?  Yep, fold yourself a mini-softbox from a sheet of A4 paper!  Okay, sure, it can’t be as good as a professionally made commercial product, but, when budgets are tight, it may not be a bad second choice.

Besides, what else are you photographers who are stuck in the office going to do on a Friday?

9/3/2010

Lifehacker iPhone App Pack

Filed under: Apple,Fun Work,Geek Work,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Lifehacker loves iPhone apps almost as much as I do!

No, seriously, I use this thing for everything.  Not too long ago, I showed you a ToDo app that makes life easier for you when trying to keep track of all the things you need to do.  I’ve talked about other apps before, and, of course, earlier this week, I mentioned that people are using their iPhone as a security testing tool.  Really, there’s no end to what you can do with today’s smart phones, though I happen to prefer the iPhone, obviously.

In any case, Lifehacker has put together a list of apps that they recommend, most of which are free.  And, the few that aren’t are only a couple of dollars a piece.  If  you’re a heavy iPhone user, it’s worth it to go take a look at their selection of “must have” iPhone apps: Lifehacker Pack for iPhone.


Powered by WordPress