BIOS password hacking

An unknown BIOS password can be a pesky obstacle to overcome. Contributor Kevin Beaver presents a step-by-step methodology to hack, crack or otherwise reset your unwanted BIOS password.

Regardless of how long you've been working with computers, you've likely had the need to reset a BIOS password. You know, those configuration and power-on passwords that often keep us from managing -- sometimes even using -- our computers to get our work done. I used to love working with this kind of stuff in college and when I first started my career. Although I'm still intrigued, I just don't have the time to spend days on end experimenting...

to find the perfect solution to lost passwords. I'm sure you don't either. That's why I've created a sort of all-in-one reference guide to hacking BIOS passwords.

I won't bore you with tips on soldering chips and programming in assembly language, but I will provide you with some steps and good resources to turn to so you don't have to pull half your hair out or give up altogether. If you really need to get into or reconfigure a desktop or laptop system and one of those pesky passwords is getting in your way, here's how you can get around it.

There are several reasons why you may need to reset a BIOS password:

  • You set a configuration password several years ago and now you have to make some hardware configuration tweaks or change the boot order of your drives. Conveniently, you can't remember the password you used.
  • Your boss brought you her computer from home that her eight-year-old stepson mischievously locked her out of by setting a power-on password.
  • You inherited a new set of computers and the previous administrator set BIOS configuration passwords so you can't enable/disable your built-in wireless or wired network cards.
  • A malicious person set a password on a physically insecure server or laptop, and now it won't boot.

Regardless of why your BIOS password was set, there's likely a workaround. Some fixes are free while others you'll have to pay for. Some fixes are simple while others require you to be mechanically inclined. It'll very well cost you time and/or money, but it's hard to put a price on a non-functioning computer -- especially if it means your efforts could be better spent elsewhere.

I'll forewarn you: There are a lot of good BIOS password hacking and cracking resources on the Web -- several of which I link to in this guide. As with most things, the resources offer some good advice and some bad. Performing some actions can really lock you out of your computer -- to the extent of damaging your hardware and being forced into a service call, so proceed with caution. Also, be careful handling any computer hardware; you can destroy the sensitive circuitry inside the computer with static electricity coming from your hands. It could end up bleeding from the sharp metal that's inside the computer case! Keep in mind that attempting any of these steps can potentially void your computer's warranty as well.

So, if you're up for the challenge, try the following steps to hack, crack or otherwise reset your unwanted BIOS password.


BIOS password hacking

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Guess BIOS passwords yourself
 Step 2: Fiddle with the hardware
 Step 3: Crack them with software
 Step 4: Managing the BIOS password

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
Kevin Beaver, CISSP, is an independent information security consultant, author and speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. He has more than 18 years of experience in IT and specializes in performing information security assessments. Beaver has written five books including Hacking For Dummies(Wiley), Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies, (Wiley) and The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance (Auerbach). He can be reached at kbeaver@principlelogic.com.
Copyright 2006 TechTarget
 

This was first published in August 2006

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