Feeds

Plasma TV components applied to password cracking

Bluetooth crypto blown in eight seconds

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.