Accessing Encrypted Word Document

By risingTide
Aug 29, 2009
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  1. Greetings.

    I recently had to reinstall Windows (and Word) because of a new hard drive
    installation. I have copied over all my old files to my new Windows
    installation just fine and have reinstalled Word 2000 (I know its old, bare with me). However, one of the files was encrypted on my old hard drive (by me) and now it won't open on my new Windows install. It keeps saying acess denied. I understand that the
    signature would be different now because of a new install, but is there
    anyway to view this file now? I am using Word 2000 with all the updates.

    Many thanks for your time!
  2. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    not likely. You need the same code to de-encrypt as you used to encrypt.... this is not just something done on a given system... it is an intentional encryption.
  3. risingTide

    risingTide Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 117

    Right. However, I heard there is a flaw in the Word 2000 encryption algorithm...is there some way I could hack it? I mean, this would be a legitimate hack, as it is my file.
  4. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    I suspect that to which you are referring was in Windows 2000 Server and use of Office 2000 on it.

    The default encryption method for Word 2003 and Word 2002 is the Office 97/Office 2000 Compatible encryption method. This is the Office-proprietary encryption that is supported by Microsoft Word 97 and Microsoft Word 2000. Office 97/Office 2000 Compatible, a proprietary predecessor to the CryptoAPI method from Microsoft Internet Explorer continues to be the default password algorithm to ensure backward compatibility and international document portability.

    Key Length: The Office 97/Office 2000 Compatible encryption method does not support changing the key length, so this control is unavailable, and no number is displayed.

    You will find a lot of useful information with a Google search, but most resolutions come from searchs on the Microsoft site.

    I doubt you will find a workable hack... but ask and ask and ask... Also try using it on Office 2003 server, as well as Office 2000 Server... there have always been corrections on those two that are not available in Office 2000.

    You might also try some oddball approaches such as an attempt to open in Word Perfect or Open Office... and attempts to convert it to Works 6.0 or 7.0, or Word 97-2003, Document Transfer, XML single file web page, and others...
    If you can find somebody who has Office 2007 Server or Office 2003 server, some lucky folks have been able to trick it there.
  5. risingTide

    risingTide Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 117

    Thanks for the info. I'll have to try some of those options.

    My question about the flaw in the algorithm came from this post I found on another site:

    Could I try to use a password cracker to open the file?
  6. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    You could try it... but that issue, and most others, was taken care of in the Service Packs and the upteen Jillion microsoft downloads long ago.
  7. risingTide

    risingTide Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 117

    Do you know of any password cracker that I could try? I don't want to download something that has malware in it.
  8. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,846

    I am not sure how the mods would feel if I posted links to cracking software. But if you have some time and some skill, low level cracking on low level algorithms is doable on a home PC. It exists, its not hard to find, but I dont want to violate techspot TOS in anyway. Its not some magical software the instantly breaks down passwords, that doesn't exist.

    Send me a message and we'll talk.
  9. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Very, very difficult... The machines are built so the password process differs...
    You generally have at least 7 digits four... and they are both letters and numbers... You do the math

    One of the very best crackers on Techspot only cracked three Dell laptops that I know of... then quit... Lots or specialists have tried to make money on the idea... but any Dell laptop built since 2004 is believed to be impossible... unless you know the owner and his peculiarities.
  10. risingTide

    risingTide Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 117

    Here's a little more information on how I actually encrypted it in case it helps:

    On Windows XP Pro: It's a .doc file so I right clicked on it and went to "Properties." Then under the Attributes section I clicked on "Advanced." Then I put a check beside "Encrypt contents to secure data." That's all I did.
  11. risingTide

    risingTide Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 117

    Crisis averted! As I was going through some old files I had saved on CDs from years ago I found a copy of the file unencrypted. I don't know exactly why it is there, but I can read it fine so I'm quite happy.

    Thanks for your help on this post; hopefully something on here will help someone else at some point in time.
     
  12. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,846


    Well with the right processing power, and time, a brute force program such as Kain could likely do the job. The time it would take could be very very long. For instance without knowing any information, a 16 digit MD5 hash brute/dictionary measure on my PC is measured in years.

    The DoD however, is speculated to have some "supercomputers" that can brute force in a much shorter time period.


    I understand the issue has been resolved, just making a bit of conversation. :)
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