Passwords and Keys


4 Ways to Avoid Packet Sniffing and Data Theft

vpn_analysis.jpgLast week on the freeware review, I wrote about the simplicity of packet sniffing and analyzing with Ethereal. I revealed how easy it was for anyone to tap sensitive data like login information, credit card numbers, social security number, and mission-critical emails traveling on the network. As promised, I will reveal how to actually prevent packet-sniffing software from reading your sensitive data.

As I previously explained, packet analysis passively listens into a network and then extracts the important data, which is usually in plaintext. The key to hampering packet analysis is encrypting that data sent on the network so that it is not read in plain text. The encrypted data that packet analyzers gather is pretty useless without an encryption key. While it is possible for crackers to obtain the key, encryption makes the process a lot longer (and sometimes nearly impossible). There are a couple common ways to do this.

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Change or Reset Any Windows XP Password

Last month, I wrote about automatically cracking the Windows XP password with Ophcrack. In the article, I revealed the simplicity of downloading the Live-on-CD *.iso Linux distribution file and running it at the computer startup.

But sometimes, it is not even necessary to obtain access to a locked Windows machine by that means. There are even easier ways to access an account in Windows XP. These methods do not even require any downloads or storage media (like CDs or floppy disks) to perform them. The only caveat is that these methods will never reveal the password. They will only reset and change the password to any combination that pleases you.

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Disable Feature Cripplers Like WinLock by Changing Windows Registry Policies

When I was a high school senior. I was in charge of the network and the technology lab. Part of my job included maintaining and fixing the computers. As a systems administrator, I required full access to the network and the machines. Unfortunately, some of the computers were locked. Back when I was a freshman that the previous systems administrator installed a feature crippler called Winlock on all of the machines to prevent students from changing settings like the desktop background and installing programs like computer games.

I hate it when people install programs the cripple functions in the operating system. But, I suppose it was necessary back then since the computers in the lab had Windows 98 installed. Unfortunately, Windows operating systems like 98 are not based on the NT Kernel. Therefore, WinLock was necessary in order to render a “guest user” environment for the students.

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