Password protection shattered by cheap GPUs

Password protection shattered by cheap GPUs

Hackers are using cheap consumer hardware to crack even the most complex passwords in a matter of seconds, according to tests run by server hosting firm UKFast.

UKFast says that a £30 graphics card can be used to boost PC performance to process 158 million possible passwords per second, shattering beliefs that a long password that includes a random combination of symbols, numbers and letters is sufficient to protect sensitive and personal information.

Stuart Coulson, UKFast's security expert says: "A typical home GPU can process 9 million passwords per second, this really shows the power of these graphic processing units. Reasonably complex passwords can therefore be compromised quite quickly by using cheap consumer hardware,"

Using an nVidia GeForce GT220 graphics card - that can be bought for as little as £30 - with the latest drivers on Windows 7, UKFast's security experts were able to crack a 6 character password in 12 seconds, a seven character password in less than five minutes, and an eight character password in four hours.

The current top-specification graphics cards, costing £600, make light work of password cracking, processing 10.3 billion passwords per second.

Users are urged to protect themselves by changing their passwords often and thinking about the complexity and length of their passwords.

Coulson continues: "Nobody is immune to the damage a weak password can cause - even those in high-powered positions of authority. Every extra character makes the hacker's job more difficult because there are so many more possibilities for what that character can be and the more you can introduce to your password, the safer it is."

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 October, 2011, 17:33Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Great that hackers can crack the password. If you - as a countermeasure - implement standard password protection and lock the account after x times entering a wrong password, this will prevent hackers to access your account. In most web based environments this is standard functionality. Or am I thinking too simple? 


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 October, 2011, 23:56Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I'm afraid so.  The one way hash algorhitm used by most vendors are well known.  Once you obtain the encrypted version of the password, you can use this tool to reverse engineer it into the un-encrypted version.  Hackers steal the whole password database from servers in their encrypted format and then "reverse engineer" them using tools like this.  It's always taken a long time, but now it's becoming faster and easier.  The lockout i.e. 3 attempts and your out, has no relevance in this.

Anthony Cossey
Anthony Cossey - Fixnetix ltd - London 05 October, 2011, 13:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

i think two way authentication is the only way to protect yourself, however with RSA being hacked, i fear this solution is still not 100% secure with the leading vendor