Previously we have covered that Using Microsoft Account is more secure than those using traditional local accounts. But what we didn’t talk about is how easy it is for others to break into your computer, e.g. retrieving your local user account’s password, or resetting your local account, etc., with the help of many free tools out there. Sometimes, it would be a good idea to know how the other side does it so we can better understand it and be well prepared to prevent such security risks from happening.
Here we’ve collected the top five most common tools used to try to break into your computer, more specifically, breaking user accounts to gain access to your data saved on the computer.
BackTrack is an all-in-one Linux based Live CD that offers many ways to attack a computer. It has the ability to hack from Kernel level to any known vulnerability, you can also use to identity exploitation. You can use it to of course retrieve local user account password, any wireless network password etc.
#2 Trinity Rescue
Trinity Rescue is another Linux based rescue kit that’s aiming to be used for a good cause – recovery and repair operations on Windows machines. But of course, malicious people will use it for other intended purposes. Some of the features includes:
- easily reset windows passwords with the improved winpass tool
- winclean, a utility that cleans up all sorts of unnecessary temporary files on your computer.
- easy script to find and mount all local filesystems
- recovery of lost partitions
- evacuation of dying disks
Etc, the list goes on and on, over all, this is a much more user-friendly tool compare to Back Track. Use it at your own risk.
Kon-Boot has been out for some times, but it still does the trick, you can use it to reset and erase user account and it’s associated passwords. It works very well against legacy PCs, but for newer Windows machine like Windows 8. If the account is a Microsoft Account, then it won’t be able to get the job done.
Ophcrack, is a free Windows password cracker utility, it’s designed to allow you to brutal force your way into a PC. That is to keep trying and guess what the password might be. It works not only on Windows device, but all other PC you can think of, including Mac and Linux. It has a not too shabby UI that makes average Joe’s less intimidating.
#5 Any Linux distribution Live CD
Last but not the least, if you just want gain access to the computer’s file system. Pretty much any Linux distribution out there does the job, assuming the Windows partition is not encrypted. If a partition is encrypted, then you are out of the luck. Some stand out Linux distributions are Ubuntu, openSUSE, Debian etc.
Overall, the best way to protect yourself against such attack is to lock down your entire PC. You can do that by have your entire partition or hard drive encrypted, we have a guide on how you can beat those hackers and keep your computer safe.
Co-founder of Next of Windows and a cool geek 🙂
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Last updated: 08/04/2014