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So I have a couple of password protected rars and zips (don't worry, this is for educational reasons only). I know the exact names of the files in those rars and zips. Dictionary attacking the files didn't seem to help, so I was wondering if the names of those files can be of any help in terms of cracking.

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Only if they used one or more of the file names as the password. –  Moab Oct 21 '12 at 0:05

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Absolutely not. The encryption key is independent of the filename.

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Thanks for the speedy response...that was my initial thought but we couldn't find any other hints to crack these what were supposed to be crackable archives. –  Sidd Oct 20 '12 at 16:09
    
Did you try obvious passwords? E.g. 'secret' 'pasword' and 'password'? (The one with a single s in pasword was actually used for a rar which I recently received.) –  Hennes Oct 20 '12 at 16:10
    
@Hennes yup! we've tried simple letter only passwords but we will figure out another way to get through this. Thank you! –  Sidd Oct 20 '12 at 16:36
    
Did you try battery horse staple? Just in case your prof actually has humour? (See XKCD imgs.xkcd.com/comics/password_strength.png) –  Hennes Oct 21 '12 at 4:25
    
The ZIP format at one time was susceptible to known-plaintext attacks, and knowing the file names in this case might have helped (see here for more). –  Karan Oct 21 '12 at 13:43

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