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Finding An Effective Method Of Password Recovery. Part I
Using special password recovery tools is the fastest and the easiest way to recover a lost password for a document. When we say “fastest” we mean that this method is sufficiently faster than other methods, but this does not mean your password will be recovered in no time. Some encryption algorithms present little difficulty for password recovery tools. Such weak algorithms were used in MS Word and MS Excel 6/7 and also in MS Access (all versions up to Access 2000). If a stronger algorithm is used, it may take a lot of time to recover a password (the particular amount of time depends on the performance of you computer and the password recovery settings used).
So, it takes a lot of time to recover a password. But you need this password right now! What can you do?
PasswordExperts.com suggests that you follow the steps below:
Try a dictionary attack. It’s no secret that people often use common words and word combinations as passwords. Check how inventive you were, when you chose the password. Here you can find an archive containing a number of dictionaries sorted by topics. Try to use these dictionaries one by one. If you are lucky, you will find a match in one of the dictionaries. If no, proceed to Step 2.
If you are the author of the password-protected document, and you are the person who protected it with a password, chances are you may have an idea what kind of password you could use. Trying to reconstruct the situation in which the password was applied may be a good idea. Try to remember as much as possible of the situation when the document was protected with the password. Was there anything you might be thinking at the time? Perhaps, a new movie, a new gadget or some sports event? Create a plain text file and enter the possible passwords (words, word combinations and sets of symbols) one per line. Don’t be lazy and don’t reject the possible words because you think you could never use them. You may be surprised at how simple the password can be. This file is you personal dictionary. Use it to restore the password. If this does not work, proceed to the next step.
Now you will need the file created during Step 2 (if you skipped that step, go and create the file as described above). Your objective is to create your personal "character set" by picking out all symbols used in your passwords. Choose the brute force recovery method and specify that a user-defined character set must be used. Pick out all characters, numbers and special symbols used in your personal dictionary (make sure that all characters have both uppercase and lowercase variants to guarantee from mistakes caused by the accidentally pressed Caps Lock key). Check your character set for repetitions (you need just one instance of each symbol, repetitions will only increase the recovery time). Run the recovery process and wait. You character set must be smaller than the regular one, but still it may take a lot of time to try all variants because this is, in fact, a brute force attack.
If the previous step did not help, you seem to be one of those unlucky persons who will have to go through the pains of the good old brute force attack. This kind of attack is a silver bullet that will kill any password werewolf. But it is a true tax on your patience because it requires lots of time. Still, there are the ways to speed the process up. For example, you can employ the user-defined character set again, but this time you will exclude all symbols that you definitely could not use (for instance, many people never use special characters).
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