Feeds

Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units.

The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks.

The firm's threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within "the first few minutes".

"We eventually cracked 576,533 or almost 92 percent of the sample within a period of 31 days," Sigler said.

"Such a short cracking time using a word list from last year’s [common passwords] study shows that passwords were as predictable as ever.

"'Password1' was the password we came across most often in this year’s analysis."

Lazy passwords allowed Trustwave hackers into every third corporate environment tested.

Password composition

Password composition

Passwords peaked at eight characters in keeping with business policies. The most common were Password1 with 2984 results, Hello123 with 2587, password with 2458 and welcome1 with 1697, the study found.

"Despite the best efforts of IT administrators, users find methods to meet complexity requirements while still creating weak passwords," Sigler said, noting that Active Directory's password requirements permitted 'Password1'.

Sigler reiterated warnings that mixed non-phonetic passwords riddled with special characters and numbers were no more secure than memorable phrases of the same length, provided those passwords were not common, cliche or easy to guess.

Moreover because users were more inclined to select short lengths when using non-phonetic passwords, it was easier to crack with automated tools than long phrases.

"[If] we assume the attacker knows the length of the passwords and the types of characters used, 'N^a&$1nG' could be cracked in approximately 3.75 days using one AMD R290X GPU. In contrast, an attacker would need 17.74 years to crack 'GoodLuckGuessingThisPassword' using the same GPU," the hacker wrote.

The passwords were cracked using two machines costing US$1800 and US$2700 respectively. The first ran an Intel Core i7 processor, 16Gbs of RAM and two AMD Radeon 7970 graphics cards while the second sported an AMD FX-8320 8 core processor, the same RAM and four AMD Radeon 7970 graphics cards.

The graphics card could crunch billions more calculations per second than a central processing unit for the same money. The Radeon 7970 could for US$350 run 17.3 billion NTLM hash calculations per second while a US$320 over clocked Core i7-3770K USD could only crunch 246 million calculations per second. ®

Bootnote This Reg hack recommends users select unique memorable or funny phrases for all of their important passwords, or opt for a password manager, and urges IT admins to stop forcing regular password resets since studies show this pushes users to select increasingly weaker codes. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
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?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'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
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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 and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.