Despite the fact that most users still have issues with creating strong yet memorable passwords, they are at least aware of the importance of properly securing their computers. And thanks to the inclusion of biometric authentication methods like scanning a fingerprint, setting up an extra layer of security can be done in mere seconds.
Still, even if the computer does provide advanced authentication options, wrongdoers can easily bypass the user account’s login screen without the need to crack a single password by accessing sensitive files and data through the PC’s BIOS. However, this scenario can be prevented by creating a BIOS password, the computer’s first line of defense that locks any unauthorized users out even before the system is booted up.
Overkill or the Ultimate Protector?
Although the BIOS – short for Basic Input/Output System – is the firmware responsible for the system booting up the way it should, the average user almost never needs to access it since most of the default settings can also be configured directly within the OS. And since the BIOS is rarely visited, most people aren’t even aware that it can be protected by a password.
However, there is no need to panic if password protection is missing. By default, a computer leaves the manufacturer without the BIOS password active, and this is how the setting usually remains until the PC is discarded. Unless the machine is publicly used and needs extra protection anyway, having the BIOS password turned on is definitely overkill. And if that’s not enough, the biggest issue with BIOS passwords is that forgetting them could have dire consequences that requires disassembling the computer.
Still, even if the idea of a BIOS password might seem like a third wheel, it’s actually a bit safer than locking the user account since it’s virtually impossible to crack. Therefore, if it makes you feel more comfortable having this feature in place and the password is kept somewhere safe, then activating a BIOS password won’t hurt at all.
Setting up and Changing the BIOS Password
Thankfully, creating the BIOS password – or changing it if it’s already set – isn’t too complicated, provided that you know how to access the computer’s BIOS. In most cases it requires pressing one of the function keys on the keyboard, however on Windows 10 computers – which boot up so quickly that pressing the right key is practically impossible – there is another way to access the UEFI, which is a more advanced replacement of the BIOS.
By going to Settings > Update & security > Recovery and then clicking on the “Restart now” button under “Advanced startup” you will be taken to a special screen. Once there click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware settings, and then finally choose to restart the computer. This process will bring you to the UEFI, where all you have to do is navigate to either the “Security” or “Password” section in order to set up a new password or replace the existing one. Remember that, just as is the case for the BIOS, changes must be saved in order to take effect.
When the BIOS Password Is Forgotten
We don’t want to sound too fearful here, but under no circumstances should the BIOS password be forgotten or lost, because resetting it is a nightmare. Admittedly, there is the option to use a so-called backdoor or administrative password provided by manufacturers or found on special sites like the BIOS Master Password Generator, but it still doesn’t guarantee a successful reset.
Simply put, if the backdoor password doesn’t work, then your only options are either to call the PC’s manufacturer or to remove the CMOS battery from the motherboard, which is absolutely not recommended for average users.
Remembering the BIOS Password
Forgetting the BIOS password can be both annoying and dangerous at the same time but, thankfully, if it’s stored in a password manager then you don’t have to worry about locking yourself out of the computer ever again.
Although BIOS passwords cannot be imported directly into the password manager’s vault, they can still be added as secure notes and affected by the same military-grade encryption as any online login credentials. And if that’s not enough, password managers can sync data between multiple devices meaning that if you do happen to need the password then you only have to open the program on another computer or a smartphone to access the BIOS password and unlock your PC.
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