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20-07-2005, 22:14   #1
Steffano2002
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Help! Cannot open Encrypted Word/Excel documents!

Hi there,

I somehow managed to encrypt a Word document I had in my "My Documents" folder and I copied this whole folder onto my external hard drive in order to format my PC. And now, ALL my Word and Excel documents seem to be encrypted (they all show up with their name in green instead of black) and when I try to open any of them I get an error message saying "Word cannot open the document: user does not have access privileges" (see screenshot)

Does anybody know what I am supposed to do to open these documents? PLEASE HELP!

Last edited by Steffano2002; 20-07-2005 at 23:33.
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20-07-2005, 22:21   #2
unklerosco
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http://support.microsoft.com/default...308989&sd=tech

Just did a google on it, sounds like the folder is encrypted...
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20-07-2005, 22:42   #3
Steffano2002
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Thanks for the help unklerosco!

Here's what I found on the MS support site :

How to Remove Encryption from a File

Only the following people can decrypt an encrypted file.
• The user who encrypted the file (that's me but I formatted so he doesn't know it's me!)
• Any user who was designated as a recovery agent before the file was encrypted (didn't do anything like that when encrypting)
• Any user who has the public key or private key for the recovery agent or the user that originally encrypted the file (and where do I get that? I don't even know what it looks like!)
• Any user who has been granted access to the file (nobody in particular, just me...)

It's not looking good now is it...?
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20-07-2005, 22:59   #4
KdjaCL
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Google "open protected word documents".
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20-07-2005, 23:09   #5
Capt'n Midnight
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Did you by any chance make a backup floppy disk to store the encryption key before you wiped the drive ??

http://www.surasoft.com/articles/xpefs.php
Quote:
A trap that many fall into is when they re-format their system and re-install WindowsXP whilst having encrypted data on another disk and they didn't back up their "keys". In fact they didn't even know they existed. Suddenly they realize they do not have access to their encrypted data. What do you do? The answer is delete the data as you cannot recover it (unless your administrator makes use of an Recover Agent or there is a hidden back door --spooky--).
the article goes on to tell you how to backup the keys..
RE: hidden back door - at least one non microsoft key has been found in a windows system file.

Also encrypted NTFS had a gotcha type problem with one update IIRC, but then again I met someone who had to setup NT cleanly and step though service packs until they found the one that the tape they wanted to restore was backed up with.
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20-07-2005, 23:25   #6
Steffano2002
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The thing is these documents are not password protected but encrypted!
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20-07-2005, 23:27   #7
Rollo Tamasi
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Steffano2002 open word. Then click on file > open.
Select you file but before you click open you'll notice that the open button has a drop down menu. Select the option to open and repair.
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20-07-2005, 23:29   #8
Steffano2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt'n Midnight
Did you by any chance make a backup floppy disk to store the encryption key before you wiped the drive ??

http://www.surasoft.com/articles/xpefs.php the article goes on to tell you how to backup the keys..
RE: hidden back door - at least one non microsoft key has been found in a windows system file.

Also encrypted NTFS had a gotcha type problem with one update IIRC, but then again I met someone who had to setup NT cleanly and step though service packs until they found the one that the tape they wanted to restore was backed up with.
Well, this is my situation:

"A trap that many fall into is when they re-format their system and re-install WindowsXP whilst having encrypted data on another disk and they didn't back up their "keys". In fact they didn't even know they existed. Suddenly they realize they do not have access to their encrypted data. What do you do? The answer is delete the data as you cannot recover it..."

Good bye important documents...

Thank you all for your help anyway guys!
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20-07-2005, 23:31   #9
Steffano2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo Tamasi
Steffano2002 open word. Then click on file > open.
Select you file but before you click open you'll notice that the open button has a drop down menu. Select the option to open and repair.
Thanks Rollo Tamasi!

I gave it a try but it didn't work. Same error message...
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21-07-2005, 00:04   #10
Capt'n Midnight
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Other reasons for access denied are normal security permissions, but then the files would not be green.

Anyway - right click on the files and into security and check the permissions there, taking ownership in advanced if necessary.
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21-07-2005, 09:34   #11
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This may be a stab in the dark.......

I remember this as a problem from work a long time ago: There was a law in France against encryption, so MS products in the French locale would not open encrypted excel / word documents. Not sure if this has changed recently. I just noticed a French filename there and it pinged my memory.
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21-07-2005, 11:02   #12
Steffano2002
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Hi Capt'n Midnight,

I checked these security settings and there are no issues there...

Khannie,

The screenshot indeed shows I am trying to open a Word document in French but this document was created here (in Ireland) with Windows XP in English, it just has a French name. I don't think the French encryption issue is a factor here unfortunately...

Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to answer my query!
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21-07-2005, 13:44   #13
TheMonster
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You can consider the data gone if you can't get the keys

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn1804

Quote:
Relatively weak encryption appears to have been used to protect files recovered from two computers believed to have belonged to al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.

The files were found on a laptop and desktop computer bought by Wall Street Journal reporters from looters in Kabul a few days after it was captured by Northern Alliance forces on 13 November. The files provide information about reconnaissance missions to Europe and the Middle East.

A report in the UK's Independent newspaper indicates that the encryption used to protect these files had been significantly weakened by US export restrictions that existed until last year.

The files were reportedly stored using Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system and protected from unauthorised access using the Encrypting File System (EFS), which comes as standard on this platform. They were protected with a 40-bit Data Encryption Standard (DES), according to the Independent report. This was the maximum strength encryption allowed for export by US law until March 2001. All systems are now sold with the standard 128-bit key encryption, exponentially stronger than 40-bit.

Wall Street Journal reporters say that they decrypted a number of files using "an array of high-powered computers" to try every possible combination, or "key" in succession, a process that took five days.

Billions of keys
Brian Gladman, an ex-NATO encryption expert based in the UK, says that 56-bit DES means checking about a billion billion different keys in succession. This would take the average desktop computer a year, but a group of powerful machines could perform the feat in a few days, he says. However, he adds: "If you go much beyond 56 bit it is outside the realm of possible."

But Gladman says the US should not seek to reintroduce controls on the export of strong encryption products in light of this evidence. He believes that export controls would not necessarily stop terrorists and could harm the security of companies outside the US.

"The internet is already vulnerable and if we do not implement strong encryption, criminals will get away with murder," Gladman told New Scientist. "Any efforts to prevent the deployment of this technology will damage us rather than help."

Gladman says that terrorists can rely on far more elementary techniques to keep information secret and communicate covertly. These include using secret code words and anonymous internet cafes.
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21-07-2005, 13:53   #14
Steffano2002
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Yep, as far as I'm concerened it's gone... Tough way to learn about encryting...
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