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  • A Method for Retrieving Forgotten WordPerfect Mac Passwords

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  • dsvoltaire
    Hello All: A couple of months ago, I found myself needing to access some password-protected old WP files for which I could not remember the passwords. I
    Feb 22, 2007 1 of 2
    View Source
    Hello All:

    A couple of months ago, I found myself needing to access
    some password-protected old WP files for which I could not
    remember the passwords. I scoured the internet and even
    called a couple of companies and was told across the board
    that no one had ever figured out how to crack the passwords
    for WP for the Mac (the Windows version is apparently
    easier to crack as there are several programs out there
    which claim to be able to do this).

    Being a very stubborn person, the more I was told to simply
    give up on my files, the more I was determined to figure
    things out. It took me several weeks, but I was able to
    finally work out a method for retrieving my passwords and
    regaining access to all my old files. I had about 15 files,
    all with different passwords, and I was able to recover
    passwords and open all of them.

    Since I noted there were some other members of this group
    who had the same problem with "lost" files, I thought I'd
    share what I've learned in the hope that some of you out
    there might also get a chance to access files you'd thought
    you'd lost forever.

    My method is not a crack, but a brute force procedure that
    takes time and patience. It's not very elegant, but it
    works.

    Basically, it's a game of trial and error as you eke out
    each letter of your forgotten password.

    First, you need to be able to view your files in a hex
    editor such as the free OxED (which is available via
    Apple's website or a number of other places; just do a
    google search, you'll find it). If you've never viewed a
    WordPerfect file in a hex editor, what you'll see are three
    sections. The first column is the hex line number of the
    file, the next 32 columns are the hex representations of
    the file's contents, and the final column is the actual
    file information (if your file were not encrypted, you'd be
    able to read the text in this column; since the file is
    encrypted, it just looks like your cat was dancing on your
    keyboard and made a file). Some of my encrypted files were
    originally created in WP 3.1 for the Mac and some with 3.5
    and 3.5e. There are slight variations in the contents of
    these files, but the password is always in roughly the same
    place in files created with these three versions of WP for
    the Mac.

    Approximately 320 bytes into the file (that's about 10 or
    12 lines down in OxED), in the last column, you'll see a
    long series of characters which are, of course, gibberish,
    since the file is encrypted. However, those encrypted
    characters are, in fact, your password; at least the first
    19 are, the rest are something I've never figured out, but
    it doesn't matter for purposes of finding your lost
    password anyway.

    All you have to do to figure out your password is start
    saving new files with a known password (they don't need to
    have any text in them) and then opening those newly-
    encrypted files in OxED and comparing them to the file for
    which you can't remember the password. Depending on how
    complex your password was to start with, it may take you a
    while to slowly figure it out one character at a time.
    However, I found that after I'd learned the first few
    characters of a password (or passphrase in my case) I would
    remember the rest of it. I started with a file with a
    password of lower case "a" and worked my way through the
    alphabet until I got it to match, then I moved on to the
    next letter and created a file with a password that started
    with the letter I'd recovered and then began with "a" again
    and worked my way down. In my case, I knew I had used
    passphrases and I had some recollection of the phrases,
    just not the whole thing, so I was able to take some
    shortcuts and not have to try every letter, et cetera. In
    one case, though, I didn't have a clue about the password,
    and was still able to figure it out in about 20
    minutes.

    Because of the method Wordperfect uses to encrypt files,
    the same letter will not be the same encrypted character
    within the password if it appears in different places
    within the password. In other words, a password of ababab
    will not be encrypted as XOXOXO, but will look more like
    XO_(#: or some such. This is because part of WordPerfect's
    encryption method uses a counter which increments by 1 with
    each character (it starts at 01 and goes up to 255, then
    starts over). I could never simply decrypt my files
    because, despite a ridiculous number of hours and test
    files, I could never work out where the counter started.
    WordPerfect's passwords are case sensitive, so if you used
    upper and lower case letters in your forgotten password,
    those are different, too. And, of course, there are all
    kinds of special characters available on the keyboard that
    might be in your password. However, like I said, most of
    you are probably like me and once you reveal the first few
    letters/characters/whatever, you'll probably remember that
    old password on your own.

    BTW, you can use some other hex editor or even the xxd
    command in Terminal, but I found that for long files
    Terminal is useless because it apparently can't handle
    larger files and truncates the beginning of these files --
    the precise part you need to visualize in order to work out
    your password.

    I hope others will find this information useful. And
    remember -- never give up, never surrender!

    dms
  • pjandlar
    Wow, too cool! I just love solutions to things that can t be done ! Pam
    Feb 22, 2007 2 of 2
    View Source
    Wow, too cool! I just love solutions to things that "can't be done"!

    Pam

    --- In wordperfectmac@yahoogroups.com, "dsvoltaire" <curator@...> wrote:
    >
    > Hello All:
    >
    > A couple of months ago, I found myself needing to access
    > some password-protected old WP files for which I could not
    > remember the passwords. I scoured the internet and even
    > called a couple of companies and was told across the board
    > that no one had ever figured out how to crack the passwords
    > for WP for the Mac (the Windows version is apparently
    > easier to crack as there are several programs out there
    > which claim to be able to do this).
    >
    > Being a very stubborn person, the more I was told to simply
    > give up on my files, the more I was determined to figure
    > things out. It took me several weeks, but I was able to
    > finally work out a method for retrieving my passwords and
    > regaining access to all my old files. I had about 15 files,
    > all with different passwords, and I was able to recover
    > passwords and open all of them.
    >
    > Since I noted there were some other members of this group
    > who had the same problem with "lost" files, I thought I'd
    > share what I've learned in the hope that some of you out
    > there might also get a chance to access files you'd thought
    > you'd lost forever.
    >
    > My method is not a crack, but a brute force procedure that
    > takes time and patience. It's not very elegant, but it
    > works.
    >
    > Basically, it's a game of trial and error as you eke out
    > each letter of your forgotten password.
    >
    > First, you need to be able to view your files in a hex
    > editor such as the free OxED (which is available via
    > Apple's website or a number of other places; just do a
    > google search, you'll find it). If you've never viewed a
    > WordPerfect file in a hex editor, what you'll see are three
    > sections. The first column is the hex line number of the
    > file, the next 32 columns are the hex representations of
    > the file's contents, and the final column is the actual
    > file information (if your file were not encrypted, you'd be
    > able to read the text in this column; since the file is
    > encrypted, it just looks like your cat was dancing on your
    > keyboard and made a file). Some of my encrypted files were
    > originally created in WP 3.1 for the Mac and some with 3.5
    > and 3.5e. There are slight variations in the contents of
    > these files, but the password is always in roughly the same
    > place in files created with these three versions of WP for
    > the Mac.
    >
    > Approximately 320 bytes into the file (that's about 10 or
    > 12 lines down in OxED), in the last column, you'll see a
    > long series of characters which are, of course, gibberish,
    > since the file is encrypted. However, those encrypted
    > characters are, in fact, your password; at least the first
    > 19 are, the rest are something I've never figured out, but
    > it doesn't matter for purposes of finding your lost
    > password anyway.
    >
    > All you have to do to figure out your password is start
    > saving new files with a known password (they don't need to
    > have any text in them) and then opening those newly-
    > encrypted files in OxED and comparing them to the file for
    > which you can't remember the password. Depending on how
    > complex your password was to start with, it may take you a
    > while to slowly figure it out one character at a time.
    > However, I found that after I'd learned the first few
    > characters of a password (or passphrase in my case) I would
    > remember the rest of it. I started with a file with a
    > password of lower case "a" and worked my way through the
    > alphabet until I got it to match, then I moved on to the
    > next letter and created a file with a password that started
    > with the letter I'd recovered and then began with "a" again
    > and worked my way down. In my case, I knew I had used
    > passphrases and I had some recollection of the phrases,
    > just not the whole thing, so I was able to take some
    > shortcuts and not have to try every letter, et cetera. In
    > one case, though, I didn't have a clue about the password,
    > and was still able to figure it out in about 20
    > minutes.
    >
    > Because of the method Wordperfect uses to encrypt files,
    > the same letter will not be the same encrypted character
    > within the password if it appears in different places
    > within the password. In other words, a password of ababab
    > will not be encrypted as XOXOXO, but will look more like
    > XO_(#: or some such. This is because part of WordPerfect's
    > encryption method uses a counter which increments by 1 with
    > each character (it starts at 01 and goes up to 255, then
    > starts over). I could never simply decrypt my files
    > because, despite a ridiculous number of hours and test
    > files, I could never work out where the counter started.
    > WordPerfect's passwords are case sensitive, so if you used
    > upper and lower case letters in your forgotten password,
    > those are different, too. And, of course, there are all
    > kinds of special characters available on the keyboard that
    > might be in your password. However, like I said, most of
    > you are probably like me and once you reveal the first few
    > letters/characters/whatever, you'll probably remember that
    > old password on your own.
    >
    > BTW, you can use some other hex editor or even the xxd
    > command in Terminal, but I found that for long files
    > Terminal is useless because it apparently can't handle
    > larger files and truncates the beginning of these files --
    > the precise part you need to visualize in order to work out
    > your password.
    >
    > I hope others will find this information useful. And
    > remember -- never give up, never surrender!
    >
    > dms
    >
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