Feeds

Plasma TV components applied to password cracking

Bluetooth crypto blown in eight seconds

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Forget networked PCs or even PlayStation 3s, components commonly found in plasma TVs are the latest thing in password cracking tools.

High performance FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips are the Chuck Norris of number crunching, equally suited to image processing and (with a bit of modification) password cracking.

During the Black Hat conference in Washington in February researcher Steve Mueller and David Hulton used FPGA kit in an attack that cracks standard GSM transmissions, encrypted using the A5/1 algorithm, in as little as 30 seconds.

The same technology can be applied to crack Bluetooth transmissions in as little as eight seconds, according to security consultancy SecureTest, which ran a demo of the technology at the recent Infosec conference.

Plasma TV components applied to password number crunching

Plasma TV FPGA board 'ups the ante' in password cracking

Tom Beale, a consultant at SecureTest, explained that networks of FPGA boards can be linked together for password cracking. The really serious can splash out $120K for high-end FPGA kit from the likes of Pico Computing.

For SecureTest's purposes, FPGA boards from old LG plasma TVs did the job.

The beauty of FPGAs, according to Beale, is that they are customisable. The technology is typically used in applications such as product development for networking kit but, with skill, it can be applied to other purposes.

Beale explained that FPGAs are software programmable. It is possible to change logic block components implemented by the device even when it's running, a skill that requires knowledge of hardware programming language HDL.

Ken Munro, managing director of SecureTest, said the technology ups the ante in the battle between code makers and breakers. "Encryption is not the magic bullet. There are subtle issues," Munro explained.

FPGAs are usually slower than application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) counterparts and draw more power so, powerful though they are, they certainly aren't the last word in password cracking. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.