Password Security: Not So Secure
Crackers Are Catching Up
How strong do you think your password is? Unfortunately, it’s probably not as strong as you think it is.
Over the last 5 years, there has been a quantum leap in the field of password cracking. Computers are faster, programs are smarter, and crackers are more efficient at what they do. It’s never been easier to crack what was once uncrackable. And with the rampant practice of reusing passwords, once the thieves have one, they have them all. In short, the average password today, and the security we all think it provides, has never been weaker.
Educate Yourself About Password Security
A password-cracking program today, even run on the most basic of computers, has the capacity to process on average 8.2 billion password combinations every second. Many different methods have been developed in the last few years which make password-cracking faster and more efficient. The programs look for dictionary words from a database of over 26 million words, adding numbers, punctuation, and other characters to each entry list.
Today’s hackers know the most popular techniques out there and have taught them to their cracking programs. Techniques such as adding numbers or special characters to the beginning or end of traditional passwords have become commonplace and are still thought to be safe by a majority of people. But the hackers are well aware of this and have their automated programs looking specifically for that pattern. Even more advanced techniques such as “mangling” where letters are replaced with numbers (example: “later” is made into “l4t3r”) or even adding the mirrored word to the end of a word (example: “house” becomes “houseesuoh”) are well known by hackers today. Once these patterns are isolated, these techniques become completely useless and are easily cracked.
There is much to be learned from this. Password security is not stagnant. What is secure today will be cracked in a matter of hours tomorrow. As the hackers set up their game, so must we. The way we protect ourselves in this digital 21st century must be continuously evolving in order to stay one step ahead of the information thieves.
Original article “Why passwords have never been weaker” by Dan Goodin.
Read the full article here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/08/passwords-under-assault/