According to Russian forensic security experts and 'password recovery' specialists ElcomSoft, the days of protecting documents and files with 40-bit encryption are now officially over.

It has now released a product which uses Thunder Tables technology to unlock password-protected documents that have been created using Microsoft Word. In fact, it guarantees that it can provide "near-instant recovery" of any such documents protected with 40-bit encryption. That compares with the days it would have taken using a straightforward brute-force approach.

Apparently the secret is the Thunder Tables technology, something that ElcomSoft claims is a result of "scientific research in cryptography" which ensures all 40-bit encryption keys are unlocked in seconds. These seem to be somewhat similar to Rainbow Tables, which come shipped on a DVD containing pre-computed hash tables. Rainbow Tables are well known in the security field, and can be sued to 'unlock' around 99 percent of encrypted documents in just a few minutes.

However, unlike Rainbow Tables the new Thunder Tables promise 100 percent 'password recovery' and in seconds rather than minutes.

They seem to work in a similar fashion though, pre-computing decryption information to speed up the password cracking process. With 40-bit encryption providing for a trillion possible keys, the Thunder Tables simply accounts for all of these possibilities as incredible as that may sound.

The news comes hot off the heels of ElcomSoft also revealing it has found a way of cracking WiFi WPA and WPA2 encryption by employing the use of Nvidia graphics cards.

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