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5/28/2009
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Members Of Legendary '90s Hacker Group Relaunch Password-Cracking Tool

L0phtCrack is back: Former members of L0pht Heavy Industries retool their tool after buying it back from Symantec

It's official: The famous password-cracking tool L0phtCrack is back, and its creators plan to keep it that way.

L0phtCrack 6 tool, released Wednesday, was developed in 1997 by Christien Rioux, Chris Wysopal, and Peiter "Mudge" Zatko from the former L0pht Heavy Industries -- the hacker think tank best known for testifying before Congress that it could shut down the Internet in 30 minutes. In January of this year, Rioux, Wysopal, and Zatko bought back L0phtCrack from Symantec, and later announced they would build a new version of the tool with support for 64-bit Windows platforms and other new features.

"When Symantec stopped supporting L0phtCrack [in 2005], a lot of people were still using it. They left their customers high and dry," says Mudge, who, along with his co-developers, had initially worried that could happen. "We had clauses in place so that if Symantec ever did cease to support and maintain it, we could have certain options [to get it back]. We didn't want somebody to take it from us and deep-six it. We thought it was a useful tool."

Weak passwords are still a major problem today, even 12 years after Mudge and his colleagues first wrote the proof-of-concept code for L0phtCrack. The tool was later sold commercially by @stake, the security consulting firm that purchased L0pht and then was later acquired by Symantec.

"People are still tremendously dependent on passwords. We have all of these cached credentials and network logons," Mudge says, adding that weak passwords are still getting compromised. "This still needs to be brought to people's attention in a relatively powerful way, and that's what the tool always did."

Among the new features in L0phtCrack 6 is 64-bit support, as well as support for Windows Vista. The tool provides password assessment and recovery, dictionary and brute-force cracking, password-quality scoring, remediation, remote scanning, and executive reporting.

Mudge says he's working on a Mac OS X interface for L0phtCrack, and that later versions of the tool will look at different types of password hashes and encoded credentials. The developers also are exploring how to harness more horsepower for the tool using, for instance, a machine's graphics processing card to handle some of the heavy lifting.

L0phtCrack 6 is available for download from L0pht's newly launched Website. It costs $295 for the Professional version, $595 for the Administrator version, and $1,195 for the Consultant version.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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