I wear a white hat.

When I try to break into a computer, it is at the invitation of the owner.  I have done it for the government and for individuals.  Let me tell you about the tool I used this past weekend.

I was volunteering at a local charity this past weekend.  Of the four computers they have in the Guest Services area, two had lost the password to the network drive where they keep their work.  This was bad news – there were about 500 people coming in to volunteer on Saturday, and it wouldn’t be good to have half their donation-taking PCs down.

The main man wasn’t there.  He is a fount of much knowledge, and he was also away at a conference.  The other people in charge didn’t know the password.  They tried some things they thought would work, but no go.  When I saw people standing around the computers and frowning, I put on my white hat (figuratively) and went to investigate.

The requirements weren’t clear – “It wants a password” so I downloaded Nirsoft’s Asterisk Logger.  This freebie will show what is hidden behind the stars or circles that Windows displays instead of your password.  Useful tool, but the wrong one for this emergency.

Because this was a network password that was missing, I should have started (and did eventually use) Nirsoft’s Network Password Recovery.  Install on a connected PC, run, and it showed what the password was.  Type that into the box that was asking for it and shazam – it worked, almost like magic.  I finished up by uninstalling the utilities from the original PC, typing the password into the other PC that needed it, and telling the password to the people who had the need to know.

Please understand that these things are powerful tools.  Just like a car, a camera, or cash, the password tools can be used for good or for evil.  These are sharp, and they do their job very well.  Make sure you wield them the same way.

Nirsoft tools – on the cutting edge.