Feeds

Password hints easily snaffled from Windows PCs

Psst, you might want to encrypt that

Security for virtualized datacentres

Punters' password hints are easily extracted from the latest Microsoft Windows machines, security researchers have discovered.

TrustWave SpiderLabs uncovered a key called "UserPasswordHint" during wider research into how the Redmond operating system stores password hashes. Subsequent studies showed it was easy to extract and decode password hints from the registry on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines. The value stored is obscured with the addition of zeros but not encrypted.

So an eight-line script was all it took to determine the clear-text version of password hints. The researchers have integrated user password hint decoding into Metasploit, the widely used computer security tool that has applications in both penetration testing and hacking.

Obtaining password hints would narrow things down for a hacker running a brute-force or social engineering attack. However other security researchers have noted that password hints aren't supposed to be secret.

A hint can easily extracted from Mac OS X machines too, according to Mac and smartphone security expert Graham Lee. Password hints are, by their very nature, a security trade-off. "You increase the risk of telling others about your password in return for reducing the risk that you'll forget it yourself," Lee explained. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
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
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.