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Reviewing Quality of Password Protection: Microsoft Access

In MS Access - a DBMS from Microsoft, which for years had remained the de-facto standard for the IT industry, the situation with password protection was literally catastrophic. Originally, Access offered password protection built upon the system database, which stored the list of users, their passwords and privileges - who was allowed to do what. The database, however, did not get encrypted. In Access 95, the second type of password protection emerged with the opportunity to set password to an entire database (one password for all users) and encrypt it. Both password protections have been implemented at a very low grade: passwords were stored directly in the database, and even though they're in the encrypted format, it's easy to extract and recover them instantly.

Everything has changed in Access 2007. Microsoft has completely given up on user passwords (probably having thus acknowledged that it's a totally unreliable method). At the same time, the database-level protection has remained; moreover, it has significantly improved. Nevertheless, even here they couldn't do without a dramatic error: Microsoft had announced that the new Access used strong encryption; in the reality, however, it had just the 40-bit encryption, and, moreover, it was quite weak. Thus, what took place there was a direct deception of customers by Microsoft. Access Password offers a service for the guaranteed recovery of password-protected Access 2007 databases, regardless of the password length.

There's yet another story related to password protection in Access, which could have been so funny if it wasn't so sad. In Office, there was an error that led to the damage of MS Access databases. Microsoft has acknowledged the error partially (find out more at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q223043/ ), and since we came across databases damaged this way frequently enough, we could assume that there was a typical enough situation that had led to the damage. Mistakenly, MS Access considered databases damaged that way as password-protected (reason - error in the implementation of password protection; particularly, and in the overall logics of working with databases. In general, MS Access doesn't have the check for the validity of the database header, which leads to situations of this kind). It is possible to build up a password, which MS Access would accept as valid; however, proceeding further with it will lead to the abnormal termination of MS Access. The database is actually damaged, not password-protected, and therefore it is impossible to use it. There is a chance to recover such database manually, but that requires quite a bit of an effort.

 

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