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Passware Encryption Analyzer Free can reveal secret files on your own PC

04 June 2012, Mike Williams

If you manage one or more PCs then you’ll know it can be difficult to make sure they’re all being used as you might like. Should someone want to conceal files from you, say, then if they zip them up and password-protect the archive then there’s very little chance of you ever finding out.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though – not if you install Passware Encryption Analyzer Free, a simple tool which will scan whatever areas of a PC you define and highlight almost any encrypted or password-protected files.

The program is easy to use. Select your scan type, decide which drives or folders you’d like to check, click Search and essentially that’s it: you can sit back and watch.

Scan your folders for password-protected files in just a few clicks

You might be watching for a while, though, as Encryption Analyzer can take a while to run. And that’s perhaps no surprise: with support for more than 200 file types, there’s a lot of analysis to be done, and Passware Encryption Analyzer is extremely thorough. We tried to fool it by taking a protected ZIP file and renaming it to have a WMV extension, for example, but our ruse failed – the program still found and highlighted the archive.

This thoroughness can lead to a more lengthy final report than you might have expected. We found a lot of protected PDF files on our test PC, for instance. None of these were secret or hidden, all of them could be opened as normal, but Passware Encryption Analyzer was just indicating that they had some PDF security restrictions imposed (can’t be printed, can’t be copied to the clipboard, whatever they might be).

And the real power here is of course reserved for Passware’s commercial tools. If you right-click a file in Encryption Analyzer, for example, then you’ll see an option to “recover password” and access the file right away. This requires Passware Kit Enterprise to work, though, which costs a chunky $795.

But then as well as decrypting files, Passware Kit can also reset passwords for Local and Domain Windows Administrators, recover BitLocker encryption keys and decrypt TrueCrypt, FileVault2, and PGP volumes, so it’s not difficult to see how the program could save businesses a great deal of time and money (and there’s a free trial available, if you need it).

Even with its more limited powers, though, Passware Encryption Analyzer remains an interesting tool which makes it easy to uncover otherwise hidden and protected content on a PC. And that’s something which is very hard to do in any other way.

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