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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
up vote 1 down vote accepted

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 – 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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