Feeds

Plasma TV components applied to password cracking

Bluetooth crypto blown in eight seconds

Website security in corporate America

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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.