A warning up front…This article is a little geeky and deals with breaking passwords.  If this stuff makes no sense or your head hurts after reading this then congratulations…you’re probably not a geek! If you might be then keep reading.

A few days ago we posted an article about cleaning a laptop which included links to a few password cracking tools.  The laptop cleaning article has been taken offline however the password cracking tool tips were pretty cool so we wanted to get those back up.

One such program is named Ophcrack.  The most popular version of Ophcrack is a self booting CD-Rom which will automatically search your computer for the necessary files used to obtain the passwords for each user account.  There are separate Ophcrack “Live CD’s” for WindowsXP and Windows Vista / Windows7.  The main difference between the two versions is the manner in which the passwords are stored by the operating system.

WindowsXP stores passwords using a hash value that is easier to determine.  Proof of this is fact the WindowsXP Ophcrack Live CD will recovery any password under 14 characters in length that uses any combination of the following characters (0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ). Having the same options for Windows Vista / Win7 causes Ophcrack to take up approximately 12 times the amount of space causing the file to be way too large to fit on a CD-Rom or even DVD-Rom.  Further info about the Ophcrack tables can be found here.

We’ve written about the importance of using strong passwords previously (here, here and here) but knowing about Ophcrack should just drive home the point.  Even then there are other ways to break in or reset passwords that are not discussed here.  If you need assistance with a password you’ve forgotten please contact us.  Recovering passwords is just one of the many services we offer.