I have an openssh encrypted private key. I don't remember the pass-phrase. I may be able to suggest words or patterns that may be in the phrase.

I am looking for software that will help me recover the key.

I am thinking of a tool that can generate a stream of pass-phrases, based on my hints, a dictionary and some randomness. Then piping this into something like expect and ssh-add.

Can someone tell me what tools are available.

I am running Debian Gnu+Linux.

ps. next I will look at a way to not forget my pass-phrase, and a more secure encryption.

  • Try this - it looks old and not maintained anymore, but it may still work.
    – user42178
    Jul 12, 2014 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


John the Ripper supports cracking SSH private key passphrases. If you provide a dictionary it will be even faster. Alternatively, you can also use Phrasendrescher.

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