Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Imagine a World where passwords were useless

Recently, in the press:
March 12, The Register – (International) SSD tools crack passwords 100 times
Password-cracking tools optimised to work with SSDs have achieved speeds up to 100 times quicker than previously possible. After optimizing its rainbow tables of password hashes to make use of SSDs Swiss security firm Objectif Securite was able to crack 14-digit WinXP passwords with special characters in just 5.3 seconds. Objectif Securite spokesman told Heise Security that the result was 100 times faster than possible with their old 8GB Rainbow Tables for XP hashes. The exercise illustrated that the speed of hard discs rather than processor speeds was the main bottleneck in password cracking based on password hash lookups. Objectif’s test rig featured an ageing Athlon 64 X2 4400+ with an SSD and optimised tables containing 80GB of password hashes. The system supports a brute force attack of 300 billion passwords per second, and is claimed to be 500 times faster than a password cracker from Russian firm Elcomsoft that takes advantages of the number crunching prowess of a graphics GPU from NVIDIA.
(By the way, SSD stands for Solid-State Drive -- a faster way to store data)

An SSD is much faster than a hard drive but orders of magnitude slower than fast RAM, so if these folks ran the same test with the Rainbow Tables in local RAM they'd be cracking the same passwords in 0.0053 seconds (unless this moved the performance bottleneck to the CPU).

If you want a solution, I recommend something like this.

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