Step-by-Step Guide

Step 3: Crack them with software

If your computer won't boot because of a power-on password, and you've tried the previous recommendations, there's not a whole lot else you can do other than call a local computer shop technician to get his take on it.

However, if you have a BIOS setup password that needs to be reset, you can try using one of the free BIOS hacking programs; it may be able to get you in. It is very risky, though, so go into it with your eyes wide open and know that BIOS corruption and/or damage may very likely occur. You can run a tool such as WipeCMOS,
!Bios
, CmosPwd and this tool for IBM ThinkPads. Those programs can read and write your BIOS information, including passwords and hardware configuration information, and potentially allow you to get in. The problem with this method is that some tools will reset everything, and you may not be able to configure your BIOS back to the point it needs to be for your motherboard and other chipsets to work. Again, read all the documentation with any tool you use and proceed with caution!

For Toshiba laptops, there's a parallel port or USB-based "key" you can purchase from Password Crackers that allows you to reset the existing BIOS password. You can also create your own makeshift key disk with a simple floppy and hex editor as outlined on Elf Qrin's Web site, How to Bypass BIOS Passwords.

If all else fails, you may be able to use DOS debug program running from a bootable floppy or CD to manipulate your BIOS directly as outlined here. Again, this is dangerous stuff, so go forward knowing that your computer might end up worse off than it was before you started tinkering with it.

If you're into learning more about the computer BIOS, check out BIOSMods.com and the book that helped me through many computer engineering courses in college way back when: Hans-Peter Messmer's The Indispensable PC Hardware Book.


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 September 2008

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