Detox-Comic

Windows password protection alone is just not good enough

Summary

Setting a Windows password might not be as good a security measure as you may think.

How a pro can get around your Windows password

I was quite surprised to learn that quite a few people believe that setting a password on a Windows login account will protect their data if their PC is ever lost or stolen. This is not the case. Creating a password for your Windows login only makes it a little bit harder for someone to logon to your computer, but not impossible, and it certainly does not protect your data.

The truth is that the data that is stored on a Windows PC hard drive by default is in an unencrypted format that is easily readable. A hard drive can be removed from a PC and connected to another PC, which can read it giving someone access to your files.

Another slightly more advanced method grants someone access to your data and the software on your PC by using a special boot CD or DVD disk that will allow them to reset your password to whatever they want it to be without needing to know the original password. If you have disabled the ability to boot from a CD or DVD drive in your BIOS and password protected your BIOS, most PC professionals know that if you remove the BIOS battery from the motherboard the BIOS settings are reset to their factory defaults without password protection, making it easy for someone to re-enable the ability to boot from a CD or DVD drive or even a USB device.

So in summary, setting a password for your Windows logon account is pretty much like attaching a steering wheel lock to your car. It may deter the curious thief but not someone who knows what they are doing. If you are storing important information on your PC (which hopefully is backed up somewhere), then use additional protection such as good encryption software to protect your data. So if your PC is ever lost or stolen you can have piece of mind that they don't also have access to your data.

If you have any feedback regarding this article, or you have a suggestion for a new article, or just want to say thanks for the info then feel free to drop me an email at dave@detoxcomic.com.

Article date: 17th January 2011

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