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accessing encrypted files

Created: 04 Aug 2012 • Updated: 06 Aug 2012 | 3 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

My late husband, who died in an accident five weeks ago, was the Treasurer of a charity. He used PGP desktop home to encrypt files relevant to the confidential business of the charity, and we need to access those files urgently to carry on our business. Is there any way we can access the files without knowing the passphrase he used? The version we have is

BXD2H0X PGP Desktop Home 9.9 for
Windows
License Type: Perpetual

other info on the invoice is 1 UDX2DOX PGP Desktop Home 9.9 for Windows - Software Insurance
License Type: Software Insurance
No license number needed or provided.
1 XAXAXBP PGP Desktop Home Email Installation Assistance
License Type: Support
No license number needed or provided.

and it was a paid upgrade in September 2008, used on Windows XP. I have been unable to create a case on the technical support site, presumably because I am not the original purchaser, so don't have access to the required numbers.

I'm a computer user rather than a technical person, and would appreciate any advice anyone can give me - preferably in a novice's language!

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Tom Mc's picture

PGP is truly secure encryption.  You cannot decrypt PGP encrypted files without knowing the passphrase needed for the encryption.  This assumes that a secure passphrase was used.  If you think he may have used a weak passphrase, you may possibly be able to find a company that for a probably hefty fee would attempt a brute force attack on the passphrase; or you could do a Google search for frequently used passwords to try, or search for something like PGP passphrase cracking software.  None of this will help if a secure passphrase was used.

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jayme's picture

Thanks - unfortunately I'm pretty sure it would have been a strong passphrase as he was strong on computer security.I suppose there's no way i can decrypt the whole disc without knowing the pass phrase either?

Tom Mc's picture

Unless the encrypted disk was on a computer in an organizational setting, where the encryption was handled by a PGP Universal Server, you also have no way to decrypt the disk without the passphrase.  Encryption could not otherwise be secure. 

The hope you may have would be if he may have also given someone else passphrase access to his computer, or if he might have written down his passphrase somewhere.

If you were able to decrypt his disk, that would still not give you access to any individually encrypted files or folders.

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SOLUTION