Intelligent bruteforce password attack for Excel, for free

Sometimes there is a need to open an Excel file that you don’t have the password for. Occasionally this will be when a colleague who has password protected an Excel document has now left the company…usually it is because the idiot who password protected the document forgot the password.

I work in the IT world, and this problem comes up on a pretty frequent basis…even more so because I am involved in the security and investigations realm. Usually when I need to get into the document I would use a brute force method. Unfortunately even with the best commercial solutions, brute force can take a ridiculous amount of time…and for the average person these solutions are not cheap. For excel files that were made in versions of Excel earlier than Excel 2007, this method will still work, but isn’t entirely necessary. Excel 2003 and earlier is a lot easier to crack than later versions. From 2007 onwards, there is a level of encryption involved. Also, this method is for the password used to open the Excel document, not the password protected sheets and formulas (these are simple to bypass anyway).

If you aren’t sure what brute force is, basically it is checking every possible combination of passwords possible. Starting from A to ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. This is a pretty quick process if the password is 3 or 4 characters long and doesn’t include special characters (!,*,% etc). Start looking at 7 character passwords and it is near impossible to get the password using this method unless you have quite a bit of cash to spend. Check this link to see how long a typical bruteforce attack would take. Continue reading Intelligent bruteforce password attack for Excel, for free

Linux vs. Windows: by a Microsoft Windows user

I am a long time Microsoft Windows (and DOS before that) user. I have never been too interested in Linux. I decided recently to have a go with Linux. I have installed Linux MCE before (, and was very impressed with this Media Center. It was an easy installation, and worked very well, even on the old hardware I was trying it out on.

The PC (Laptop) setup I am using is as follows:

  • Compal FL92 Chassis (15″ Screen)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 2.1 GHz CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 160GB Hard drive
  • Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT
  • Atheros AR5007EG Wireless Network Adapter
  • Microsoft Windows Vista SP1

Continue reading Linux vs. Windows: by a Microsoft Windows user

Adobe Photoshop – Free alternatives

Adobe Photoshop is expensive. After you have already spent your hard earned cash on a decent DSLR, you are hardly going to be able to afford spending almost the same amount again on software. Photoshop is the best software out there for image manipulation. But luckily, there are free alternatives. Continue reading Adobe Photoshop – Free alternatives

New Browser on the block – Google Chrome

I downloaded the Google Chrome browser (beta) tonight, the big secret project that Google has been working on for years. I am a huge Google fan, not just for searching, but the applications and services are in daily use by me: Google Mail (there isn’t an online email that comes close to this! Hotmail feels archaic in comparison.), Calendar (this just works, and collaboration is brilliant.), Docs (all the basic functionality you need in a basic Word Processor), Google Earth (Spent hours playing with this), Google Maps (great service, works better than any other route planner I have used).

Now we have Chrome, and surprise surprise, I love it! As with all Google products, it is clean, quick and does exactly what is required of it…with a few extras thrown in! Switching between IE, Firefox and Chrome, you notice just how uncluttered Chrome is. Ironically enough, this is probably because I have the Google toolbar on IE and Firefox, but not on Chrome (it isn’t compatible!). The thing is you don’t really need the toolbar with this browser.

This isn’t going to be an extensive review, I am just going to mention a few things about it, and hopefully you will download it soon and test it out for yourself. When installing it, it seamlessly imports your settings from your default browser. The first thing you notice is the lack of pretty much anything. See the screen shot below. The front page is a summary type page showing your most visited pages visually (at a glance, so you can see whether there is an update), a search input for your history and list of your most recent bookmarks.

A big departure from the norm is the way tabs are shown. Tabs run along the top of the application, so it feels like each tab is its own browser. Additionally there is the ability to go incognito (the incognito tab). Let’s face it, this is so you can browse porn without any trace of it for your other half to find! No trace is kept when in this mode, no cookies or history.

I still need to spend a lot more time with this browser before deciding whether it will become my default browser. I am interested to see how the community responds with plugins for this browser, and also how Google intend to integrate their other services and apps. The way I see it, I use Google as my primary search engine, and my primary email provider (as well as all the other apps I use of theirs!)…so if Google have an innovative approach to integration of their other products, I think this will definitely become my default browser.

GameTap : Free Games

Check out I was pretty dubious about this at first, because as with free offers, there is usually a catch. however this doesn’t seem to have one (aside from a few adverts). There is also a pay option which gives you “Gold” status (extending the catalogue of games)

Gametap is an emulator of sorts. It allows you to play a big back catalogue of games from all different platforms (including PC, ATARI, Arcade, Saturn, Commodore, DOS etc.). The selection of free games is pretty impressive. Some of the tiles for free are : Cannon Fodder, Sam & Max episodes, Tomb Raider Legends, Colin McRae 2005, Commandoes 3, Hitman, Hitman 2, Metal Slug…and a load of others.

If you pay to go Gold (not sure how much this is) it unlocks an even bigger catalogue of games.

Go to and download the installer (about 30mb). I am off to play Tomb Raider : Legends…