FAQ 8.11 How do I decode encrypted password files?

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8.11: How do I decode encrypted password files?

    You spend lots and lots of money on dedicated hardware, but this is
    bound to get you talked about.

    Seriously, you can't if they are Unix password files--the Unix password
    system employs one-way encryption. It's more like hashing than
    encryption. The best you can do is check whether something else hashes
    to the same string. You can't turn a hash back into the original string.
    Programs like Crack can forcibly (and intelligently) try to guess
    passwords, but don't (can't) guarantee quick success.

    If you're worried about users selecting bad passwords, you should
    proactively check when they try to change their password (by modifying
    passwd(1), for example).


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