Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards

Georgia Tech researchers find that high-end, readily available graphics processing units are powerful enough to easily crack secret codes.




Slideshow: Cloud Security Pros And Cons
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
Passwords with fewer than 12 characters can be quickly brute-force decoded using a PC graphics processing unit (GPU) that costs just a few hundred dollars, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"We've been using a commonly available graphics processor to test the integrity of typical passwords of the kind in use here at Georgia Tech and many other places," said Richard Boyd, a senior research scientist at the university's research institute, in a statement. "Right now we can confidently say that a seven-character password is hopelessly inadequate."

Today's top graphics processors offer about two teraflops of parallel processing power. For comparison, "in the year 2000, the world's fastest supercomputer, a cluster of linked machines costing $110 million, operated at slightly more than 7 teraflops," he said.

The barrier to using multi-core graphics processors -- available from Nvidia or AMD's ATI division -- for compute-intensive processes other than graphics processing, said Boyd, first fell in 2007, when Nvidia released a C-based software development kit. "Once Nvidia did that, interest in GPUs really started taking off," he said. "If you can write a C program, you can program a GPU now." Or use it to crack a password.

Furthermore, thanks to Moore's Law, graphics processors continue to increase in power, which means that GPUs will get better, not worse, at cracking passwords.

But who needs a graphics processor? People often create and rely on simple passwords, and many websites use passwords more for psychological than security purposes.

But the Georgia Tech research underscores the importance of getting people to adopt longer, non-simple passwords to make them safer against attack. "Length is a major factor in protecting against 'brute forcing' a password," according to one research scientist involved in the project, Joshua Davis. "A computer keyboard contains 95 characters, and every time you add another character, your protection goes up exponentially, by 95 times."

For the record, to defend against GPU attacks, the password researchers recommend using sentence-length passwords that mix letters with numbers or symbols, and which are at least 12 characters long.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ANON1241631011972
50%
50%
ANON1241631011972,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/1/2011 | 6:35:42 PM
re: Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards
I think this article overstates the capabilities and the use case does not generally exist in the real world. Passwords do not exist in a cyberspace vacuum, just waiting to be attacked in isolation. They exist in combination with a user identifier and a challenge/response system behind a UI. While the brute force methods may be capable of generating all the possible combinations, they still have to test them against a validation challenge with the correct response set. Most password challenge systems have two additional inhibitors against brute force attacks: 1. They don't respond at GPU speeds 2. They usually disable the account after 3 to 5 failed attempts. So, unless the brute force program has the password database available and the appropriate decode algorithms to provide the correct challenge/response patterns, it will not succeed. If the attacker has that kind of access, he or she is already past the firewall and well into the bowels of the network.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15570
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-06
The parse_report() function in whoopsie.c in Whoopsie through 0.2.69 mishandles memory allocation failures, which allows an attacker to cause a denial of service via a malformed crash file.
CVE-2020-15569
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-06
PlayerGeneric.cpp in MilkyTracker through 1.02.00 has a use-after-free in the PlayerGeneric destructor.
CVE-2020-7690
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-06
It's possible to inject JavaScript code via the html method.
CVE-2020-7691
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-06
It's possible to use <<script>script> in order to go over the filtering regex.
CVE-2020-15562
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-06
An issue was discovered in Roundcube Webmail before 1.2.11, 1.3.x before 1.3.14, and 1.4.x before 1.4.7. It allows XSS via a crafted HTML e-mail message, as demonstrated by a JavaScript payload in the xmlns (aka XML namespace) attribute of a HEAD element when an SVG element exists.