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What is a Password Cracker?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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A password cracker is a computer software program used to recover user names and passwords stored on computers. As more computing functions have a need for enhanced security, passwords have become more standard. As a result, password crackers have also gained in popularity.

For those in need of a password cracker, there are plenty of options from which to choose. Some may work when the computer boots up. This may be helpful if one needs to recover a login password. Others work once the computer is running to recover other types of passwords.

The type of password cracker you may need is dependent upon a number of other variables as well. First, if a user is able to get on the computer in question, it is likely he or she does not need a password cracker that works at startup. Second, some password crackers work with certain operating systems, so looking at the software requirements before installing a password cracker is important.

The most common legitimate use for a password cracker is when there is a forgotten password. With more applications, both on and off the Internet, requiring passwords, this can be a common problem. When a user must keep track of many passwords, there is a greater likelihood of forgetting one or more.

Though most people try to use the same passwords over multiple applications, there are cases where that is not possible. Some passwords require certain features or characters to ensure greater security. Those may not be in a user's normal password so a different, but perhaps similar, password is required. Other systems may require users to change their passwords periodically. These situations are what make password crackers so convenient.

However, some have been critical of password crackers and security experts need to be aware of them for a number of reasons. Though a computer user could use a password cracker for legitimate purposes, a user can also use one for nefarious purposes. Computer hackers know the benefits of a good password cracker and can uncover valuable information with its use.

This is why system administrators have to be constantly vigilant in matters of security. Some techniques, like the requirement of changing passwords frequently, are specifically designed to help mitigate the harmful uses of password crackers. There are other software applications specifically designed to block password crackers. However, with new password crackers coming onto the market all the time, it may be hard for some security applications to keep up.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon320452 — On Feb 18, 2013

There's a game called yoville on Facebook. It's a social game that a lot of people spend real money on. Hackers hack your account then sell coins online. Is there a program that can block them on FB?

By anon228261 — On Nov 07, 2011

These tools are really good.

If you want to save more time and get a easy way, maybe some commercial software will be your choice. In addition, some people actually don't know some complex computer operations, so some easy to use software is needed, such as Windows Password Rescuer, Windows Password unlocker etc.

I have used Windows Password Rescuer Professional edition and I think the tool is convenient though cost me some money.

By miriam98 — On Jul 05, 2011

@Azuza - I liken the debates about being able to access password cracker technology to the same question you would have about your own house keys.

As a home owner you want your house to be as secure as possible, so you install secure locks. But what happens if you lose your keys? At that moment, you begin to think like a criminal by trying to pick your own locks.

Failing that you would just call a pick lock service. Believe me, I had to do this myself. It was embarrassing to have to explain how I had gotten locked out of my own home, but I was grateful that such a service existed.

I’m on the side of having the technology available to all who need it. It becomes our responsibility to frequently change the passwords (and make them secure enough) so that we can make our computers more secure.

By nony — On Jul 04, 2011

@Monika - I forgot my Windows password some time ago, and I was able to obtain a Windows password cracker that worked off a floppy disk on boot up.

It was a little complicated to get it to work; there were certain files that you had to locate and tweak. However, after making the necessary adjustments I rebooted and was able to get back in (provided I created a new password).

By Azuza — On Jul 04, 2011

@Monika - Your concerns are valid but I also don't think that something shouldn't be made because it can be used for crime. People can find a way to use all kind of technology to commit crimes, even technology that has very legitimate applications.

I think like the article said people and businesses should concentrate on beefing up their security. But then again it seems like quite the quandary, because if your security is too good you may not be able to crack your own passwords if you should need to!

By Monika — On Jul 03, 2011

I feel pretty iffy about software like this. Yes, like the article says there are legitimate uses for a password cracker. I know I'm not the only person that has repeatedly forgotten a password for a file I created. In fact I have several files on my computer I can open because of this.

However it almost seems like the legitimate use of a password cracker tool is overshadowed by its possible criminal uses. I know the cat's out of the bag and people aren't going to stop making password crackers. I just worry about what someone with evil intentions could do with one!

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