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Access 2003 Database Password

Posted on 2009-04-27
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
If an Access 2003 mdb file has a database password and the database is encoded, can the password still be discovered by a commercial password recovery program or by a hacker?
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Question by:rmk
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LVL 75

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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft MVP, Access and Data Platform)
DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft MVP, Access and Data Platform) earned 800 total points
ID: 24245220
If you Google the subject, you will immediately find the answer is Yes.  Many hacking tools exist.

mx
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Author Comment

by:rmk
ID: 24245239
Everything i have found on Google seems to say yes but it never seems to specifically say yes when the mdb is also encoded. Can you point me to a specific url?
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LVL 75
ID: 24245300
We are not allowed to do that here.  Sorry.

Trust me ... It's been long known that Access database passwords are easily hackable.  Even User Level Security is hackable.

Encoding may be a factor ... I can't say for sure on that.  

mx

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LVL 85
ID: 24246799
Once you enter the password, Access will decode the database when opened (basically).
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LVL 75
ID: 24246813
Also ... encrypted is sort of a misnomer.  As I recall, all that means is ... if you open and MDB with Note Pad or Word, etc ... you will only see total 100% garbage ... whereas  otherwise, you will see some readable text.

mx
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Author Comment

by:rmk
ID: 24246876
I don't care what happens when the database is opened. I want to encode the back end database to make sure that anyone trying to read the mdb with something other than Access will not be able to make sense of the data. I want the password to prevent someone from opening the bak end mdb with Access unless they know the password. The idea is that if someone steals a copy of the back end mdb they can't get to the data unless they are a really good hacker. I have some code in the front end that only allows the front end to run from machines in a list of mac addresses. That list is hard coded in the front end which is run as an mde to hide that list of mac addresses. It seems like a reasonable theory to me as long as the password can't easily be hacked from an encoded backend
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LVL 85
ID: 24249875
The way i see it you've got three options:

1) Use the Access database passsword and encode the database. This is pretty non-secure, since as mx said it's pretty simple to hack.

2) Build your own encryption/decryption routines and encrypt everything BEFORE it goes into the database. This is effective, but requires a LOT of work

3) Move to a new database option, like SQL Server Express. It's much more difficult to get into that data than it is with an Access db.
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Author Comment

by:rmk
ID: 24249965
As I understand it the problem with SQL Server Express is the limitation of 5 concurrent users. My client has 6 users connected all day long. Since my client is a small company, I'm pretty sure that the security they want isn't going to be worth  the cost.
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Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE ) earned 1200 total points
ID: 24252128
From MSDN:

There is no hard-coded limit to the number of users that can attach to SQL Server Express but their CPU and memory limits impose practical limits on the number of users that can achieve acceptable response times from a SQL Server Express database.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms345154.aspx

And in general you'd speak about concurrent connections ... with 6 users, I seriously doubt you'd have any real trouble with performance on SSE.
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LVL 75
ID: 24252582
"I'm pretty sure that the security they want isn't going to be worth  the cost."

Kind of a Catch 22 then .... ?

mx
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