Gadgets Hack Mobile

Hack Windows Password in 2 Minutes

hackerAt least, that is how long it would take me to hack into any Microsoft Windows account – 2 minutes! Very worrisome, isn’t it? Goes to show that anyone that thinks his data is safe just because it is tucked away in his passworded Windows account would really need to have a rethink.

I will not go through the process of how to go about hacking a Windows account here,sorry, but a quick search on the Internet would give you a number of options you can use.

So does it mean all hope of having a secured Windows Operating System is lost? Far from it!

One quick option that is within the reach of about anyone is the use of BIOS PASSWORD.

A BIOS password can be very effective at controlling access to your personal computer. All you need do is access the setup menu of your laptop and enable the Bios Password. Subsequently, once you switch on your PC – at the hardware level – you are prompted to insert a password before booting up any Operating System. If the computer won’t boot up until a password is entered, it is effectively useless to most would be opportunist hackers or other intruders.

However, the Bios Password is not hackproof. A determined hacker can still use online resources to hack the password or may just extract the hard-drive from the laptop, insert into another and hack away.

Another option is creating vaults within your hard-drive using tools like Steganos Safe software. The software allows you to protect your data in several ways. It enables you to create a secure area on your hard-drive or on removable media such as a USB key. It works just like a real vault, protecting all of your data from unauthorized third-party access. Without the right password, nobody can retrieve the contents. You can read more about this software here.

Lastly, we have Microsoft’s own Bitlocker. Probably the most secure of the lot, BitLocker Drive Encryption is a full disk encryption feature included with the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Windows 7, and with Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8 desktop operating systems. The latest version of BitLocker, included in Windows 7 and Windows 8 adds the ability to also encrypt removable drives, as described here.

Bitlocker is an effective and essential tool for protecting sensitive data, it effectively addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers.

BitLocker lets you encrypt the hard drives allowing you to protect your hard drive from offline attack.  This is the type of attack where a malicious user will take the hard drive from your mobile machine and connect it to another machine so they can harvest your data.  BitLocker also protects your data if a malicious user boots from an alternate Operating System.  With either attack method, BitLocker encrypts the hard drive so that when someone has physical access to the drive, the drive is unreadable.

Now if there is a need to harvest data from a hard drive when a machine fails, there are tools that you can use which will prompt the admin for the recovery key that was given when Bitlocker was being enabled on the drive.

Note that BitLocker does not protect the computer contents while Windows is running.  BitLocker was specifically built for offline attacks.

For those without these versions of Windows, you may consider drive encryption softwares like DiskCryptor or Truecrypt.

There are still many more data security options out there not mentioned but the ones listed are very much tested and so far, trusted. No one knows tomorrow though. 🙁


The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

geekModern society is massively complex. We like to pretend that our mastery of tools and technology has made life easier or better, but in actuality it has never been harder to simply live life.

Above all else, tools and technology give us choices, and more choice means more complexity. Ten thousand years ago, life basically consisted of hunting, eating, and procreating, and stone arrowheads were the state-of-the-art, must-have devices. Over time we mastered new materials and devised new tools (iron, paper, plastics, computer chips), and society grew increasingly complex (trade, diplomacy, religion, global media).

Tools are force multipliers, and our tools and technologies are now so advanced that the tiniest of human machinations can have worldwide repercussions. Whereas once your actions very rarely affected anything or anyone beyond your immediate vicinity, today a single photo shot with a smartphone and uploaded to Facebook can change the world. Tools also used to have very specific purposes; but thanks to monstrously powerful general-purpose hardware and operating systems, our present-day computerized tools can perform an almost infinite number of diverse tasks, often simultaneously, in many cases without our even being aware that they’re being performed.


To put it bluntly, most mere mortals simply have no idea how to handle the overwhelming power of modern devices. Do you know someone who has sent an embarrassing email or picture message to the wrong person, or misunderstood the privacy settings on their Facebook or Twitter feeds? How many of your friends know what really happens when you push the power button on your PC, or press play on Spotify?

Most mere mortals have no idea how to handle the overwhelming power of modern devices.

It wasn’t so long ago that most people completely understood every aspect of their tools, and this reflected in their proficiency with them. Today, there probably isn’t a single person alive who can tell you exactly how to make an LCD monitor, let alone a whole computer—and likewise, there are very few people who know how to properly use a computer. A modern PC outputs more data and has more functionality than a 1970s supercomputer that was operated by a dozen engineers. And yet in today’s always-connected, ubiquitously digital world, we expect a single, relatively uneducated person to somehow use these devices effectively.

Miraculously, the system actually works. Yes, people still screw up and crash their cars while texting, or get malware on their computer, but for the most part we make incredibly good use of the tools and technologies available to us.

Partly, this is due to the near-infinite adaptability of mankind—but it’s also due to geeks. Human civilization has always had elders who guide their spiritual children safely through life’s perils. In the olden days, these wise men and women would educate their communities in the ways of the world: how to nurture children, how to grow crops. In modern society, geeks are our sages, our shamans, our technocratic teachers.


Now more than ever before, the only way that we will successfully navigate technological pitfalls and make it out in one piece is if we listen carefully and follow in the footsteps of the geeks, the shepherds of society. This is quite a burden for geeks, who obviously have a better grasp of the underlying science and wizardry, but they’re still being buffeted by the same startling rate of advancement and myriad ethical and moral repercussions that technology is thrusting upon the rest of us.

Geeks must assimilate our technological advances, and then provide guidance for the rest of us.

As our shepherds, geeks must assimilate our technological advances, and then quickly provide guidance for the rest of us. You can probably remember a time when you asked a geek for advice on your next PC, whereupon he gladly imparted upon you the latest hardware, software, and peripheral wisdom. Or maybe you’re the geek to whom people come seeking council.

Today, with the exponential effect of Moore’s law and the emergence of pervasive, ubiquitous computing, it’s a little more complicated. It’s no longer a matter of the fastest computer or largest hard drive; we’re now talking about ecology (power usage, recycling), privacy (social sharing, behavioral targeting), and other philosophical quandaries that most geeks really aren’t ready for. Five years ago, almost all geeks agreed on which CPU was the fastest (the Core 2 Duo). Ask three today which mobile OS is the best, or what your Facebook privacy settings should be, and you’ll get three very different answers.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As our interactions with hyper-advanced technology shifts from the hard sciences underpinning hardware (chemistry, physics) to the soft sciences that govern software (sociology, psychology, law), it’s understandable that absolute answers are becoming harder to come by. It isn’t vital that geeks always give the right answer, anyway: The main thing is that they know enough that they can give advice.

It isn’t vital that geeks always give the right answer, but that they know enough that they can give advice.

Ultimately, the real takeaway here is that we’re all beholden to the wishes and whimsies of our geeky compatriots. They have now taken over the mantle of the wise men the masses have always followed, and for better or worse there isn’t much we can do about it. At least geeks have been doing a pretty good job so far.

If you’re one of them, however, remember that you are not only a guide who must gently lead society through the uncertain, ever-shifting mists of bleeding-edge tech, but also a captain who must ride out any storms we suddenly find ourselves in. This is a lot of responsibility to bear, but like the priests, village elders, and witches that came before you, you will do the job, and you will hopefully do it to the best of your capability. Pay heed: Your actions will directly affect the adoption (or not) of technology, thus shaping the future of human civilization.

No pressure, geeks. No pressure.

Sebastian Anthony | PC Mag January 2013 Edition


Storing Up Your Treasures On Earth

Last weekend, i decided to backup the downloads i had acquired over the few months i last did a back up. I also intended to rummage through my 25,000+ mp3 music files in response to a request. Less than half way through my backups, my 1.5 TeraByte Western Digital External Hard Drive suddenly spluttered and went belly up – just like that!

It was a surreal experience, it was like a dream. Try as i could, the drive suddenly became invisible to my laptop, it could not recognize the drive.

The least of my problem was the US$110+ that i paid for the drive at BestBuy, my problem was the years of downloads and backups that i had stashed into the hard drive that had suddenly gone up in smoke. Over 25,000 Mp3 songs, softwares, ISO images of DVDs and Video tutorials, tons of ebooks, the list is endless. In the face of such a catastrophic and monumental disaster, it is funny how i remained calm.

Still in a trance, i quietly packed up the drive and stored it away. I definitely was not in a right frame of mind to attempt any recovery of the data on the hard drive.

Thankfully, my movies were not in the crashed drive, they were safely stashed away in yet another Western Digital 500GB External Drive.

Looking back at it all, i can not help but wonder if it is worth it, accumulating all those digital files, not sure how long it would last. Yes, i could sync to the clouds and i did so but not 1.5 Terabytes (1,500 Giga Byte) of data!

I have turned philosophical, licking my wounds. A particular verse in the Bible aptly comes to mind:

Mathew 6:19
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.


Multi Boot vs Virtualization

A few days ago, i decided to shelve all forms of multibooting of Operating systems on my laptop and embraced Virtualization fully.

For the sake of the noobs in the house, Multi-boot or Multi-booting is the installation of multiple operating systems on different partitions of a computer, with the ability to choose which one to boot when starting the computer.

Virtualization, on the other hand, is the hosting of multiple virtualized Operating System environments within a single OS instance.

Either of these methods is good and one is not necessarily better than the other but — as is often the case — what matters is the method that is better for your particular needs.

So, what informed my switch to Virtualization option? And even more importantly, why would anyone ever want to run multiple operating systems on a computer?

Before i delve into this, it might help if i highlight the Pros and Cons of each of these options as highlighted in the table below:

[ws_table id=”2″]

I do a lot of OS testing, sampling out the various Linux distributions being churned out almost on a daily basis. I also do a lot of work on virtualized networks, creating a network of virtual computers within my computer. So, it was really a no brainer why i had to switch to Virtualization instead of multi booting.

To do this, i had to shell out N5000 (US$30) for an additional 4GB RAM to upgrade my laptop to 8GB. That way, my guest OS would have enough resources to work with.


Ever heard Of The CMS Commander?

If you are like me with “God knows how many” websites to maintain, this great tip will sure come in handy.

Enter the CMS Commander, a website to manage all your CMS websites (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and phpBB) from a single control panel.

From this website, you get to do the following;

  • Manage all your CMS websites from one location
  • Perform one click plugin updates
  • Perform one click theme updates
  • Plugin installation to any number of websites at the same time
  • Theme installation to any number of websites at the same time
  • Fetch articles from legal sources and post to any number of your websites
  • Post images, videos, or affiliate products to any number of your websites
  • Consolidate your Google Analytics to a single dashboard
  • Schedule and create backups of your WordPress websites

I am more of a WordPress guy and this website does a great job in converging the administrative panels of all my websites.

To use a website inside CMS Commander you need to first install a small plugin to your website. This plugin handles all the communication between your site and and establishes the secure and encrypted SSL connection. How to install the plugin depends on the CMS of your site. You can find instructions for WordPress sites below:

  • WordPress Websites
    1. Download the CMS Commander plugin for WP to your computer
    2. Log into your WordPress admin panel and navigate to the “Plugins > Add New” page.
    3. Click “Upload” in the tab bar near the top.
    4. Browse and select the CMS Commander plugin file on your hard drive. Click “Install Now” to upload it.

    Alternatively, you can upload the unzipped plugin directly with a FTP software like FileZilla to your site at /wp-content/plugins/cmscommander

This is a must-have for all website administrators.


Read This : Protect Yourself against Online Extortion

Imagine investing heavily in the creation of an online business. You’ve paid web designers, SEO service providers and content writers. You’ve set up a secure payment system and cultivated a loyal group of followers. Your profits are tied, quite obviously, to your website. If the site goes down for even a few hours, you lose money.

Now imagine opening an email to discover a nasty surprise: hackers are threatening to launch a Denial of Service attack on your website. Pay them $15,000 and they’ll leave you alone. You ignore the email, believing it to be spam, and a week later your website does indeed go dark. You lose a week’s profits.

Then you get a second email: “pay us $30,000, or we’ll attack again.” What do you do? The crooks have proven they can do the damage they claim. They may be a world away, in a country where they feel safe from your own country’s law enforcement.

Do you contact the police? Pay off the extortionists? Or watch as your business crumbles under multiple DoS attacks?

In a theoretical discussion, these questions are easy enough to answer. You’ve done nothing wrong, so you go to the police. In reality, when a business stands to lose thousands of dollars a day in revenue, $30,000 may not seem that high a price to pay.

Online extortion is increasingly common, although no one knows exactly how widespread the problem is. After all, one of the results of a successful extortion scheme is the victim doesn’t dare go to the police. And it’s not just big business that’s getting hit by virtual protection rackets. Crooks are also leaning on individuals.

Here’s a more personal scenario. You receive an email from someone claiming to have control of your home or work computer. They threaten to erase your hard drive, or, more disturbingly, flood your computer with child pornography and then alert the police. A small fee of $25 will prevent all this from happening.

A vaguer, perversely inspired email simply claims the sender knows about your secret, correctly assuming that a certain number of people who receive the email will, indeed, have guilty secrets.

Such emails are more likely to be mass-email scams than serious attacks, but when it comes to extortion, the threat doesn’t have to be effective — the victim just has to think it is. And like any Prohibition-era protection racket, if you pay once, the blackmailer continues to lean on you as often as possible.

So how do you respond? Do you risk your personal reputation and business by defying that blackmailer? Or do you pay, assuming that the payment isn’t worth the cost of retaliation?

Online businesses are especially vulnerable — a DoS attack can cripple a website for weeks, wasting the investment the business has made in the website and SEO for ecommerce. Individuals are safer. If the threat is vague, it’s likely the extortion email is a scam. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual or business to decide to ignore, fight or give in to blackmail demands. And none of those decisions offer easy solutions.



Hard Disk File Systems And Why You Should Care

Many have heard of file systems like FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS. A few would have also heard of the less popular ones like exFAT, HFS+, ext4, etc. But what exactly are they all about and why should you care?

Basically, what all these file systems do, according to Wikipedia, is organize data expected to be retained after a program terminates by providing procedures to store, retrieve and update data as well as manage the available space on the device(s) which contain it.

Most times, the file system you are familiar with, is dependent on the type of Operating system you run on your PC.

The following is a brief run down of popular file system formats and their properties;

FAT32 (File Allocation Table)

  • Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
  • Maximum file size: 4GB.
  • Maximum volume size: 2TB
  • By default windows systems can only format a drive up to 32 GB. Additional software works around this issue. When formatted at these bigger sizes, FAT32 becomes increasingly inefficient.

NTFS (Windows NT File System)

  • Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
  • Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
  • To Read/Write/Format NTFS from Mac OS X: Install NTFS-3G for Mac OS X (free)
  • Native NTFS support can be enabled in Snow Leopard, but is not advisable, due to instability.
  • Maximum single file size: 16 TB
  • Maximum volume size: 256TB

HFS+ (Hierarchical File System, a.k.a. Mac OS Extended)

  • Read/Write HFS+ from native Mac OS X
  • Required for Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner backups of Mac internal hard drive.To Read/Write HFS+ from Windows, Install MacDrive
  • To Read HFS+ (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer
  • Maximum single file size: 8EB
  • Maximum volume size: 8EB

exFAT (FAT64)

  • Proprietary file system designed especially for flash drives and memory cards
  • Supported in Mac OS X only in 10.6.5 or later.
  • exFAT partitions created with OS X 10.6.5 are inaccessible from Windows 7
  • Windows versions before Windows XP not supported
  • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
  • Maximum single file size: 16 EB
  • Maximum volume size: 64 ZB


  • Default file system in Ubuntu Linux
  • Allows characters in file names such as ‘?’, ‘:’, ‘*’
  • Maximum single file size: 16 TB
  • Maximum volume size: 1 EB

Ok, Enough Of The Stats! Why Should I Care?!

The highlights below are some points to guide you in the choice of filesystem you should adopt for your hard drives or external cards:

  • FAT32 file system has high interoperability between major operating systems with read-and-write capability
  • Windows cannot format drives and partitions larger than 32GB in FAT32. Workarounds usually introduce instability.
  • exFAT is the preferred file system for the memory card of your phones or gadgets, flash drives and external drives because of its unrivaled efficiency. However, not every Operating System supports it, no thanks to Microsoft’s proprietary restrictions. So no point using this format if you can not use it on your Windows XP mini Laptop or your Mac OS machine.
  • If you are into downloading of large file sizes, then FAT32 is not for you. It does not support files larger than 4GB. You may also encounter problems copying DVD images or downloading (pirated) ISO images from the internet, Virtual Machine Images, etc.
  • The complexity of NTFS filesystem causes it to make more demand for system memory and processing power. If your PC has limited amounts of these, you may be better off with a FAT32 hard drive formatting.
  • Some apps do not yet have support for exFAT. On the android platform, for example, the very popular Poweramp app can not read memory cards formatted to exFAT.

You Can’t Upgrade the Hard Drive in the New iMacs [Apple]

The new iMacs have the super fast Thunderbolt port and Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge Core processors which makes them, well, pretty awesome. What’s not awesome? Apple has made upgrading the hard drive on the new iMacs damn near impossible.

Other World Computing is reporting that “the Apple-branded main hard drive cannot be moved, removed or replaced.” They say it’s because Apple has altered the SATA power connector from a standard 4-pin configuration to a 7-pin configuration. And since hard drive temperature control is regulated with this cable and Apple’s proprietary firmware, messing with that drive messes with everything. OWC says:

From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from that bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test.

They tried every workaround they could think of but couldn’t use a hard drive that wasn’t ordained by Apple. In short, it looks like if you want to upgrade your hard drive, your only option is to go through Apple (or alternatively, use the second drive bay). Not cool. Read the full report at OWC.

Update: Possible logic for this move: iMacs aren’t meant to be user serviceable, so Apple’s looking to economize the design by reducing the number of parts—removing the separate external sensor/cable monitoring the HDD’s temp in favor of an integrated sensor. (Mildly analogous: Soldering flash storage chips directly onto the logic board of the MacBook Airs. Less complexity, but the trade-off is it’s not user replaceable. SOP for Apple, really.)


What You Need in a Desktop

CPU, RAM, and video card? How important is the PSU and extra hard drive space? Each of these things you need to consider when looking for a new desktop computer. Rather than grouping everything into the basket that exclaims that you just need a faster computer, let’s look at each feature individually. This way you’re sure to be buying the best computer you can afford.

Arguably the brains of your computer, virtually any Intel or AMD processor is going to be fast enough for most people. The fact is, these things are so fast that unless you’re gaming, doing AutoCAD, a multi-layer Photoshop project, or editing video, you will find systems at Best Buy or other stores with plenty of speed. The end game here is to stick with a solid dual-core CPU and life will be just fine. For those folks mentioned above needing more from their CPU, following the rule that faster is better works too.

RAM provides for a stable system
If multitasking is something you do, then you’ll want a 4 gigabyte minimum for your computer. For Windows and OS X users, adding as much RAM as you can afford is recommended, while Linux users will find that 2 gigs should be enough. RAM is cheap enough that you should go ahead and toss as much as your OS/Motherboard will support. It’s a cheap upgrade that will definitely extend the life of your computer; why not?

CPU can be key
If RAM is helpful for multitasking, then the CPU is going to be the feature that gets everything launching at top speed. If initiating things quickly matters to you, then making sure you are running with a mid-priced CPU is a good plan. I don’t believe most people need to subject themselves to the cost of the latest and greatest, but going bargain basement isn’t always the best idea either.

A video card (GPU) brings it all together
Most people think on-board graphics are fine for what they need. Typically integrated graphics cards put a strain on the rest of your computer resources, because they rely on system RAM for performance. If, however, you’re running with dual monitors or would like to have a halfway decent visual experience when enjoying movies, then a mid to high-end video card is on the table.

But what does all of this really mean?
I apologize in advance for not being too specific. I’m afraid that every time I try to do so, I miss one segment of the readership or the other. The long and short of selecting what you need in a desktop PC really comes down to this simple formula.

For email, browsing the Web, and some low-end Flash games — most entry level to mid-way components are okay.

For multi-tasking, some  DirectX or OpenGL type games, and possibly some video watched on a full screen — mid to high end system components. You get the general idea.

Other factors to consider include power to the tower and system cooling. Without both, all of the above will be for naught. Make sure you buy a good, brand name PSU (power supply unit) — unless you are purchasing a pre-built OEM computer — if you care to not have a system that crashes frequently. And the same goes for cooling — just fans aren’t enough; you’ll want good air flow through the case when dealing with mid to high end systems, especially.



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