Password protected files

I have some old microsoft word documents  (Around 15 years old) which were password protected. However when I try and open them now I do not get asked for the password it just opens and shows me encrypted text. How can I open the documents so it asks me for the password so I can enter it and see the correct text?
petewinterAsked:
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GrahamSkanRetiredCommented:
The format for word files changed with Office 97, and again with Office 2007. After each change, a number of releases could open documents of the previous format, so it makes sense to use the earliest version of Word that you can lay your hands on.

If you can then open the document, save it again in the latest format that the application can handle.

What version are you using?
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Michael MachieIT SupervisorCommented:
Try the instructions HERE

How to hack a password protected Word document
March 21, 2013 by Morten

If you need to edit a Word 2010 document that has been protected against a editing with a password, all you have to do is this.

    Save the document as an XML file
    Open the XML file in Notepad or any other text editor
    Look for the code that looks something like this:

    w:documentProtection w:edit=”forms” w:enforcement=”1¿ w:cryptProviderType=”rsaFull” w:cryptAlgorithmClass=”hash” w:cryptAlgorithmType=”typeAny” w:cryptAlgorithmSid=”4¿ w:cryptSpinCount=”100000¿ w:hash=”QtaIYzaqdsNY6+rDiZireRTIcR0=” w:salt=”Nm32FUBbspiQM+Rpm9VWIg==”

    Delete it
    Save the changes to the XML file
    Open the XML file again in word, and save it as a word file again

It should also work in other versions of Word, but I only tested it with 2010 files

You can also try OpenOffice to open those files as I hear they ignore the embedded password protection features. Once opened, resave as a different document to have the protection removed.

THIS may work too.

[15-Sep-2013 18:00 UK time] Content from first external link added to comment for convenience of other members ~fp. (Community Volunteer: Topic Advisor)

Also: Please be careful when downloading any third party application (like a "Word Password Recovery program") from unfamiliar web sites.  Even if the application meets your requirements, it may also be performing tasks not required & may be harmful to your computer/environment.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
Thanks both, but the text is still just showing as encrypted text. See document attached.
WHY.DOC
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GrahamSkanRetiredCommented:
The file very small. Is that the actual document file?
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
Yes. There is only one page.
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BillDLCommented:
Pete, if this is what you are seeing when you open Word, then it's hardly surprising because from what I can determine the contents were not generated by any version of MS Word that I have ever used since Office 95.  If this is an older file, then I cannot comment.As displayed in WordPadI should be able to open the document, because I have the import converter in place, but on this XP PC running Office 2003 I am shown the error "Word cannot start the converter mswrd632.wpc".  This is the file format converter located in:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\TextConv\mswrd632.wpc
which allows Office to decipher and import documents created in the 32-bit version of Microsoft Office version 6, which was Word 95.

This is an old and well acknowledged issue.  I cannot recall if there was a patch to fix this or if it was a case of registry tweaking, but I will return later with details of this.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
BillDL - Thanks for the reply. Yes this document could well be older than an Office 95 version.

If you have any other solutions please let me know. Thanks
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BillDLCommented:
Working on it.  You appear to be on GMT time also, or else you would be sleeping.  I'll be on here a while, so I'll let you know what I come up with.

What version of Word do you have at your disposal, and on what Operating Systems?

There is, of course, the possibility that the document was created by a non-Office program.  I've come across instances where software writers stupidly have their programs create files with the *.doc extension in some mistaken idea that the "doc" tacked onto the file name is a great indicator that the file is a "document", but hadn't considered file associations with existing programs.

Are you pretty confident by the file names that this is some kind of user created document from a word processing application rather than a "readme.doc" in some unique encoding only understood by the application for which the "readme" file was created?

Any chance this may have been created on a Mac or Unix computer?
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
Your right I am on GMT time.

I can either use Microsoft Word Mac 2008 or Microsoft Office Word 2010 PC.

Yes there is a good chance the document is not from Microsoft Office. However I have opened this document in the past using what I think was word, but I could be wrong. It was many year ago. Not sure why I can't open now in the same way. Maybe due to using more modern software versions.

To give you a bit of background on this document... My father had motor neurone disease and had a special computer that he communicated using a head clicker. The same as Steven Hawkins. My father has passed away in 1995. I have asked my mother to try and see if she has any information regarding the operating system used on this computer or the text editing software. I will let you know if I find out anything. So I am trying to open this document and a few others that I have. I think I know the password for this document, but not the others documents which I will try to crack. They are basically memoirs or other feelings that my father wanted to get out of this head and on paper. Some maybe messages that he wanted to express to his family, but not till after his death for emotional reasons.

So I'm sure you understand it will be greatly appreciated if you can help to find a solution.
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DrTribosCommented:
Hi,

For what it's worth I opened it using LibreOffice on a Ubuntu box and got exactly the same as BillDL in his comment here.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
DrTribos - Thanks for the reply.

I think the main issue is to work out why the insert password option is not appearing so the text doesn't get encrypted or some how remove this encryption.
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BillDLCommented:
Yes, I have also checked out the file using a utility named TrID by Marco Pontello:
http://mark0.net/soft-trid-e.html
It uses a definition file designed to recognise the file headers and/or patterns of all these file encodings, regardless of file extension:
http://mark0.net/soft-trid-deflist.html
Unfortunately it just reports the file as being plain ASCII text and does not recognise it as any specific encoding.

The file doesn't have a "header" acronym (for example you will see JFIF in a JPG file if opened in a text editor) or any other program name in Unicode (there is none), which I would normally expect to see.  Curiously I do see a recurrence of the letters UoSK appearing in binary data for files uploaded to online malware scanning services and several other places.  I have searched to see if this is a known file header acronym, but I get no matches.

Looking at the layout of this file in a text editor leads me to believe that this might be some kind of "script" based file.  The UoSK is either tabbed or spaced out to sit centrally, rather than being at the top left, and the remaining contents seem to be indented in a vaguely similar way to how programmers indent successive lines for legibility.

In a hex editor I can see that the new lines are created by hex characters used for "DOS" based text Carriage Return and Line Feeds (CR/LF - Hex 0D/0A), and this would not be the case if the file had been created in Linux or (I think) Mac.

I am leaning towards the probability that these "doc" files are not Word doc files, but are the product of a bespoke software program, and were never intended to be opened by anything other than that application.  Furthermore, being possibly password-protected, the files could well have been compacted, compressed, or otherwise encrypted to hide the contents from a plain text editor.

I will continue looking for clues, but it certainly would be a help if you could find out the software that your Father used.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
BillDL - Thanks again for the information, It really is much appreciated. I will hopefully get more information this evening from my mother that will help us further.
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BillDLCommented:
I'll need to leave this until later anyway.  Just getting ready to go out and get some things done while I'm off work for a couple of weeks.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
BillDL - Okay thanks. There is no rush. Just something I would like to see. After all it's been 18 years already!
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GrahamSkanRetiredCommented:
I have some .doc files dated 1990 which ask for a password before opening. They accept the password and open in Word 2003, though there is some non-text data showing before and after the main body text.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
GrahamSkan - Thanks for the reply. Have you to tried opening the doc I attached in an earlier post. Does it ask for a password when opening in Word 2003?
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BillDLCommented:
Graham

Might it be possible to attach one of your 1990 Word docs, as long as you are sure there is nothing confidential.  I would really love to compare it side-by-side with the one Peter attached and see what I can find out.

Peter

I am using Office 2003.  It doesn't recognise the file as being a Word document, or in fact any of the file types for which it has input format converters installed.  I sorted out the false error message about the Word 6 decoder so that it doesn't show, but is enabled and would otherwise kick in if Word recognised the contents as being Word 6 formatting.  It wouldn't show a password prompt unless it recognised the contents and the data content in it that had the password stored, but I am curious to see if I can identify which bit of data in the file is the password, just in case it is required later.

Do you think you could attach onother of the *.doc files.  I will do a side-by-side comparison with your other one and see if there are any elements in common (including data holding the password) which might yield some clues.

I have a feeling that the document is simply a "macro" type of script created and used by the software that created it, something like command characters rather than actual text content.  The software may well have used Word as the means to finally display and print the contents after decrypting though.

I don't know whether there is any sense in removing your question from either the "Microsoft Office Suite" or "Microsoft Applications" topics and adding it to the Forensics topic area:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Security/Digital_Forensics/
Those guys live and breathe this type of thing, and may recognise the layout or content of the data.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
BillDL - Thanks again for the information and advice.

I have attached another document.

I will also request EE to add this question to the digital forensics.
DIARY.DOC
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GrahamSkanRetiredCommented:
I think I was mistaken about my document being password-protected. When trying to open a password is, indeed, asked for but they are in a zip folder and it seems that it is the folder that is passworded.

The files that have been posted here appear to be text files where every printable character has been replaced with another. The lines are not left to fold but are terminated with carriage return and line feed. It also looks as if the space character has been left intact.

I can see no way that Word will treat them as password-protected Word documents.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
GrahamSkan - Thanks for the reply. Yes it is looking more obviously that the files are not word  documents and the text shown is the encrypted text and the password option is not available as it is not a word document. I will hopefully get more information regarding the possible file type later this evening.
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BillDLCommented:
Thanks Netminder.  Hopefully some of the forensics experts will be able to help.

Pete

I did a side-by-side comparison on your two attachments (differences and matches).  Unfortunately there is nothing in common between the two other than standard characters like spaces and the "newline" characters.

I looked long and hard at the contents, expecially the 2nd longer one, for some patterns or repeating "phrases" in the hope that it might spark some ideas about how the files are encoded or encrypted, but nothing obvious caught my eye.  I have also copied and pasted many of the groups of characters into google in the hope that I could find some other documents using the same layout, but to no avail.

If this is a case of normal letters and numerals being substituted by non-standard alternatives in some form of seimple encryption, then perhaps the forensics experts may have some programs that look for such patterns.

Did you ever see any of your Dad's typed pages up on the screen at any time?

I would imagine that typing with only head movements would have been a very laborious and time consuming exercise, and that economy with words would have been essential.  I am wondering whether the paragraphs would have been of about the same number of characters as there are symbols in the files when viewed in a text editor, or whether the contents available to us are drastically reduced into a form of machine code or shorthand.

The DIARY.DOC file seems to have a main heading which is centred or tabbed in quite a bit, there are what seem to be centred section headings, and it looks as though the start of the new paragraphs are indented in old school layout.

I was thinking about suggesting a real long shot.  Stephen Hawking is English, and around the time he would have needed to use the computer with voice simulator he was appently in Britain.  I wondered whether he might have thrown any light on what computer he was using at the time.  You wouldn't get a response for the reasons detailed on his Contact page, but there is some detail about his Intel-sponsored computer there: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-computer.html

I see from Wikipedia (three quarters of the way through the 1975 to 1990 section) that "He then received a computer program called the "Equalizer" from Walt Woltosz" and then "a computer engineer, adapted a small computer and attached it to his wheelchair".

The actual text to speech synthesiser he used/uses is by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DECtalk.

There are bound to be other areas that can be researched, and discussion boards where others who have had experience with typing aids for those with disabilities may know what was being used around the material time.

Maybe if you can find out some more about the computer your Father used and how it connected (eg. device connected by Serial Port to Windows 3 or similar)  we can perhaps find out what the markup is and if there are any companies or programmers who can still translate it into readable text.  I am imagining that programmers will know what "control characters" are passed from a Joystick to the operating system, and perhaps a similar technology was used back then.
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
BillDL - Thanks again for investigating further and all the time you are spending.

Yes I did see my Dad typing using this computer. It basically had large keyboard on the bottom of the screen and it would basically highlight each letter for a few seconds, then if it was the letter my dad wanted he would select it using his head clicker. A long process as you can imagine, though it would use predictive text to speed up the process slightly similar to text messaging on mobile phones.

Thanks for the advice for investigating the software. I have the contact of Stephen Hawkins PA which I am sending an email. I will also contact the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

I know his computer was definitely not as advance as this one: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-computer.html

Unfortunately my mother has not found any information that could help.

I will keep investigating. Many thanks
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
The Motor Neurone Disease Association may have had a previous connection with this company: http://www.abilitynet.org.uk regarding the software . They are being very helpful are going to contact me back to hopefully assist further.
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BillDLCommented:
Hi Pete

I am going to have to temporarily throw in the towel unless any other information comes to light that might lead in a more definite direction.  I have come to a dead end with this and don't really know where else to look or what else to try.  I will be monitoring for new comments, and if anything else comes to mind I will post back.

Bill
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
Thanks all for your time, help and advice. Especially BillDL. Even though I have not been able to resolve the issue I really appreciate your efforts and knowledge that you have passed on. To be honest I feel that some of the documents my Dad created he may never wanted to be read and they were just a way for him to express his frustrations during his illness. We do have other documents which were not password protected which have been nice to read. So I feel this is what is mean't to be!

Thanks again!
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BillDLCommented:
Thank you Pete.

Something like this really does leave you with a dilemma, and although I cannot fully put myself in your situation, I can understand to some degree how frustrating that dilemma must be.

There is the strong need to know what was so personal that your Dad deliberately chose to protect the files from your eyes and those of other family members, but there is the trepidation of wondering whether those notes may prove to be very painful to read.

Perhaps you are from a religious family and he was pushed to cursing in them, or perhaps they voice some other frustrations that he felt may be of too personal a nature for anybody else to see apart from him.  Maybe he felt that his writings could have made you or others feel guilty about failing to have recognised some of his needs, or maybe it was just a rant uttered through rage that he felt might have reminded you all again years later of the agonies he was enduring.

Gaining an insight into the thoughts and experiences of people suffering from conditions like Alzheimer's, Cerebral Palsy, Motor Neurone Disease, etc, can sometimes be valuable to researchers, carers, families of other sufferers, and for those who are facing the onset themselves, but maybe you are right in just leaving his "secret memoirs" to lie in peace with the author.

Regards
Bill
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petewinterAuthor Commented:
Hi Bill.

Thanks for your kind words. I agree. I think they are probably best left to be unknown and that was probably what my father wanted. Part of the reason why I haven't investigated before now is for emotional reasons, but even though I haven't read the documents I feel better for trying and it's very kind of you to spend so much time helping me.

I wish you all the best!

Pete
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