My assignment required me to find the password for a PowerPoint file (97 - 2003, v. 8.0 - v. 11.0).

I used office2john.py to retrieve the hash, and I removed the file name.

The hash is:


Then I put the hash in hashcat with the following command:

hashcat64.exe  -m 9800 -a 3  s.hash ?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l -D 1,2 -w 4

hashcat cracked it and gave me the password, but when I insert the password in PowerPoint it says that the password is wrong (iemuzqau).

Did I do something wrong?

  • 11
    Could you comment on the accepted answer what’s the solution for you was? Did any of the other passwords worked?
    – eckes
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 9:13
  • 3
    i'm still cracking a working password i'm using the '?l?d_-.:;!' charset
    – Fabius
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


The password hashes for MS Office 97-2003 are vulnerable to collision attacks. That is, multiple passwords exist that should be able to open the document.

That also means that the password "iemuzqau" is not necessarily the original password that was set by the author. It is just one of the passwords that should be accepted, because it matches the internal scheme to check for the correct password.

For the $3 type hash that you got, the hashcat methods 9810 and 9820 can be used to create password candidates faster than raw brute-force (mode 9800). According to the linked thread that should work by first executing the following command:

hashcat64.exe -m 9810 -w 3 s.hash -o hash.rc4 -a 3 ?b?b?b?b?b

The output will be something like:


Then you take the output of that command and execute:

hashcat64.exe -m 9820 -w 3 hash.rc4 -a 3 ?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l --increment

This will then produce the following output:


The mode 9820 is a mode that "keeps cracking". That is, it will not stop outputting valid passwords after the first match. This behaviour was changed recently so you might have to specify --keep-guessing on your command line, depending on the version that you use.

That does not explain why your password is not accepted by PowerPoint as only valid candidates should be generated by hashcat. But maybe you can use the described workflow to generate additional valid passwords and try them.

  • 33
    I must be missing something, but shouldn’t a collision work the same as the original password?
    – nadavvadan
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:26
  • 44
    @nadavvadan: Not sure if PPT works that way, but in general, no. If the software encrypts the whole file with the original password, and stores the hash just for verification purposes, then it'll accept anything that matches the hash, but decrypting the file with anything but the real password will yield unreadable garbage. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 21:58
  • 33
    I was missing the obvious - there’s a hash collision, but there’s also encryption involved which obviously uses a different algorithm; the collision only applies for the hash function.
    – nadavvadan
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 4:09
  • 9
    Ok, so if this is the case, what's the point of the hash at all? Couldn't it just go straight to decrypting and decide (i.e. depending on valid header data) if the password was right or not? I mean, this appears to be the case if a valid password for a given hash does not work. So why's there a hash in the first place?
    – Num Lock
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 4:59
  • 23
    @NumLock The most important reason is probably UX. Relying on looking at whether your decrypted data looks valid or corrupt to tell if you were given a correct password makes it impossible to distinguish between the user providing an incorrect password and providing a correct password to a corrupt or truncated file. Consequently, it means that you can't tell the user which of those things has happened; you just have to report to them that either they provided the wrong password or the file is corrupt, which is a crappy experience for the user. Office's approach solves that problem.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 11:35

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