A comprehensive evaluation on the benefits of context based password cracking for digital forensics

Aikaterini Kanta, Iwen Coisel, Mark Scanlon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Password-based authentication systems have many weaknesses, yet they remain overwhelmingly used and their announced disappearance is still undated. The system admin overcomes the imperfection by skilfully enforcing a strong password policy and sane password management on the server side. But in the end, the user behind the password is still responsible for the password's strength. A poor choice can have dramatic consequences for the user or even for the service behind, especially considering critical infrastructure. On the other hand, law enforcement can benefit from a suspect's weak decisions to recover digital content stored in an encrypted format. Generic password cracking procedures can support law enforcement in this matter — however, these approaches quickly demonstrate their limitations. This article proves that more targeted approaches can be used in combination with traditional strategies to increase the likelihood of success when contextual information is available and can be exploited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103809
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Information Security and Applications
Early online date13 Jun 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 13 Jun 2024


  • Contextual information
  • Dictionary
  • Password
  • Password cracking
  • Wordlist

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