Feeds

Google serves up surprise password cracking function

Rainbow warrior sinks MD5

Security for virtualized datacentres

A Cambridge University researcher successfully used Google to unearth a password used by an attacker to compromise its security blog.

The attacker created an account in Wordpress when he attacked the Light the Blue Touch Paper blog, the online journal of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University. Wordpress stores passwords as MD5 hashes without salting, a process that adds length and complexity to password hashes.

Curious to know what this password might be, Cambridge researcher Steven Murdoch tried a dictionary attack in both English and Russian (the likely native language of the attacker).

Rather than building a rainbow table that maps passwords to hashes for a more exhaustive range of possible inputs, Murdoch plugged the MD5 into Google which revealed multiple sites featuring the word "Anthony", the attacker's password. The approach hit on a result because the hash was in the URL.

"This makes a lot of sense - I've even written code which does the same. When I needed to store a file, indexed by a key, a simple option is to make the filename the key's MD5 hash. This avoids the need to escape any potentially dangerous user input and is very resistant to accidental collisions," Murdoch notes.

The new variant on Google hacking illustrates a couple of important points: that Google is indexing password hashes, albeit inadvertently, as well as everything else; and that MD5 hashes without salting are next to useless.

Murdoch's posting on his findings has sparked a lively thread on the Light the Blue Touch Paper blog. One respondent created a utility that lets users find out if their passwords are safe.

Using hard to guess passwords is simple common sense that somehow often gets overlooked. As one poster notes, searching for hashes of common default passwords such as "admin" throws up database dumps and the likes. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.