You can only do this to view passwords of connections that you are or have been connected with, you cannot use it to retrieve passwords of connections you have never been logged in with! That makes it a tool to remember what password you set here or there.
To view a password, left-click the connections icon in Windows' taskbar and go to the Network and Sharing Center:
On the left pane, click Manage wireless networks. You will see a list of items here, these are all the wireless networks you have been in so far with your machine. Right-click any of then and select Properties. In the appearing window, switch to the Security tab. You can see the encryption type as well as your password here. Just click on Show characters so the clear text will be visible:
If you want to further reduce the time it takes your Windows 8 system to boot one of the most efficient options will be to automate the login process - this saves you the time you usually spend on wiping away the lock screen and entering your password.
Be careful though! Not having to enter the password at startup leaves your machine vulnerable to direct access by strangers. This should not be done to portable or public machines!
If you choose to do so anyway you need to edit the User Account settings - the fastest way to get there is to point your cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen, right-click and open a Run prompt. Enter netplwiz into it:
First off select the user you want to log in with automatically - then remove the Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer checkbox and apply. You'll be prompted for the account's password, so enter it and confirm once.
Afterwards, the machine will log into the account automatically!
BitLocker is a handy tool that comes with the Enterprise and Ultimate Editions of Windows Vista and 7 and is also available in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (to say in what editions of Windows 8 it will be present is not yet possible since the number and form of editions have not been revealed yet).
As the name suggests its functionality is to lock things, drives, to be more specific. You can assign BitLocker to encrypt a whole device with a password by just right-clicking it and selecting Turn on BitLocker.... A wizard opens that let's you choose a password or insert a SmartCard whose PIN will be used for encryption. After the wizard finishes and the drive is removed, it will have to be unlock by the given means to be used again.
Be careful if you use BitLocker on removable drives! BitLocker encrypted drives can only be used on Windows system. Plugging it into a Linux box will give you nothing but a bunch of executables and other cryptic files.
If you happen to forget your password, BitLocker gives you the option to export a recovery key before the encryption of your drive. This is a text file containing a code similar to a serial code and can be used to retrieve data behind a forgotten password.
To decrypt a drive, just enter the password, right-click the drive and choose the appropriate option.
Resetting an account password on Ubuntu Linux is unexpectedly easy to do, you don't even need any tools or anything for it. To start, go into the GRUB menu by pressing Shift while booting. In the menu, enter the Recovery Mode option:
You will be presented a window with quite a few options of which the root command line is what we want. Go down to the menu item named root and hit Enter.
If the command line opens without problems, proceed with the following command (if it prompts you for a root password which you don't have, see here):
mount -o remount,rw /
Replace [your_user_name] with the name of the user you want to change the password of. Enter and confirm a new password on the next prompts and reboot your computer afterwards.
Resetting your systems root password may be a necessary step if you have forgotten it or have bought a used computer which you don't want to setup anew. Doing so without any installation medium saves you a blank CD and a bit of time.
To start, restart your computer and get to the GRUB menu by pressing Shift while booting. Point your cursor to the Recovery mode option:
Press e to edit the boot options. There, look for a line that looks like this: linux /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-18-generic root=UUID=b8b64ed1-ae94-43c6-92\d2-a19dfd9a727e ro recovery nomodeset:
The line will differ depending on your version and kernel but should have about the same syntax. Remove the last part of line which is ro recovery nomodeset and replace it with rw init=/bin/bash:
This will cause a command line to be opened on startup. Press F10 now to reboot the machine and get to the command line. Once you are there, enter:
/usr/sbin/usermod -p '!' root
(If you get an error by copying and pasting above command, try replacing the quotation marks.) Now reboot the machine and the root password should be reset. The changes you did to the boot options will also reset automatically, so you do not have to change them back.
Apart from the traditional text string password, Windows 8 offers a new form of securing your user account which is by including touch and/or gestures into the procedure. Spoken directly, you are now able to select a picture where you perform three mouse or touch gestures on (circles, line or dots) that will unlock your account if repeated correctly.
To create such a password open the Charms menu by pointing your mouse to the top or bottom right corner and select Settings. Afterwards click on Control Panel. Then navigate to User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change Your Windows Password > Make Changes to my account in PC settings > Create a picture password. On the next screen, browse for a picture you want to use as background for the picture password. When you are asked to, perform three gestures on the picture you chose - you can do circles, dots and lines, where circles that are too small will be recognized as dots and any other form will be transformed into one of those three depending on where start and end-points are and how the lines were drawn.
The gestures you have drawn will shortly blink up afterwards, so you now if it is what you actually wanted to draw. After you have drawn three forms, you have to confirm by drawing them again. You can orient yourself on the forms of the picture but should not do so too closely, since it will be really easy to guess afterwards. In the following picture for example, one should not use the bubbles as line reference but look for other forms or links to use - make it easy rememberable for you but hard to guess for others.
If you forget what you drew or the system, for any reason, simply does not accept what you drew (which usually does not happen that easily) - there is still the option to switch back to the regular text string password on log-in screen.
AxCrypt is a software giving you the possibility to encrypt files with a password and a keyfile which you both need to decrypt it again. You can either encrypt the file itself or a copy of it, in case you choose the latter the encryption output can be an executable file which does not need the AxCrypt software to be decrypted (but still the password and/or the keyfile).
You may ask what kind of file the keyfile is - in case you let AxCrypt itself produce a keyfile, it is a simple text document with a short code in it. You can however choose any file you want as your keyfile (I have tested it with a .vbs script and a .wav file, both work) which offers a great deal of security especially against non-professional attackers.
Upon decrypting you need all info you used when encrypting a file - the password as well as the keyfile, depending on which of them you used. If you send encrypted files to other people, the receiver will need AxCrypt installed if you have encrypted your files without choosing the option to produce an executable file. If you did however, the receiver will only need the keys to open the file, but no additional software installed.
Download AxCrypt on http://www.axantum.com/axcrypt/
To encrypt folders on Linux Ubuntu there is a simple program called Cryptkeeper which, while active, lets you mount and dismount password protected folders.
While unmounted, the encrypted folders are invisible to the user. While mounted, you need to enter the password to access its contents. To create a new encrypted folder just click on the key icon on the system panel and select New encrypted folder.
Make sure to unmount the encrypted folders before you quit Cryptkeeper since the files become accessible if they are mounted and Cryptkeeper is inactive. The files remain invisible if they are unmounted and Cryptkeeper is quit.
After crashing your system and getting entertaining colored screens on boot, you may have to consider booting in live mode from a bootable device such as an installation DVD or a USB-device. However you'll need to be able to log in as root in most cases to make changes in configuration files and others to get your system running again. While you can log in as root with a password on your normal system, you can do so in live mode by entering
sudo su -
into the terminal. This logs you in as root so you get to edit your important broken files to be able to boot from your hard drive again.