Feeds

Google serves up surprise password cracking function

Rainbow warrior sinks MD5

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.