Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

Breaking Wi-Fi Passwords: Exploiting the Human Factor

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Attacking Wi-Fi passwords is near hopeless if a wireless hotspot is properly secured. Today’s wireless security algorithms such as WPA are using cryptographically sound encryption with long passwords. The standard enforces the use of passwords that are at least 8 characters long. Encryption used to protect wireless communications is tough and very slow to break. Brute-forcing WPA/WPA2 PSK passwords remains a hopeless enterprise even if a horde of GPU’s is employed. Which is, in general, good for security – but may as well inspire a false sense of security if a weak, easy to guess password is selected.

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor is one tool to test how strong the company’s Wi-Fi passwords are. After checking the obvious vulnerabilities such as open wireless access points and the use of obsolete WEP encryption, system administrators  will use Wireless Security Auditor that tries to ‘guess’ passwords protecting the company’s wireless traffic. In previous versions, the guessing was limited to certain dictionary attacks with permutations. The new version gets smarter, employing most of the same guessing techniques that are likely to be used by an intruder.

Humans are the weakest link in wireless security. Selecting a weak, easy to guess password easily overcomes all the benefits provided by extensive security measures implemented in WPA/WPA2 protection. In many companies, employees are likely to choose simple, easy to remember passwords, thus compromising their entire corporate network.

The New Attacks
The new attacks help Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor recover weak passwords, revealing existing weaknesses and vulnerabilities in companies’ wireless network infrastructure.

Word Attack
If it’s known that a password consists of a certain word, the Word attack will attempt to recover that password by trying heavily modified versions of that word. This attack only has two options: you can set the source word and you can disable all permutations except changing the letter case. In addition, we can apply permutations to the source word first, forming a small dictionary; then perform a full dictionary attack, applying various permutations to all words from the newly formed list.

Mask Attack
Certain passwords or password ranges may be known. The mask attack allows creating a flexible mask, brute-forcing the resulting limited combination of passwords very quickly. The masks can be very flexible. One can specify placeholders for static characters, letter case, as well as full or limited range of special characters, digits or letters. Think of the Mask attack as an easy (and very flexible) way to check all obvious passwords from Password000 to Password999.

Combination Attack
You have two dictionaries. We combine each word from one dictionary with every word from another. By default, the words are combined as is, but you can increase the number of possible combinations by allowing delimiters (such as space, underscore and other signs), checking upper/lower case combinations or using extra mutations.

Hybrid Attack
This is one of the more interesting attacks out there. In a sense, Hybrid attacks come very close to how real human intruders think. The Hybrid attacks integrates ElcomSoft’s experience in dealing with password recovery. We’ve seen many (think thousands) weak passwords, and were able to generalize ways people are making them. Dates, names, dictionary words, phrases and simple character substitutions are the most common things folks do to make their passwords ‘hard to guess’. The new Hybrid attack will handle the ‘hard’ part.

Technically, the Hybrid attack uses one or more dictionaries with common words, and one or more .rul files specifying mutation rules. We’re supplying a few files with the most commonly used mutation rules:

Common.rul – integrates the most commonly used mutations. In a word, we’ve seen those types of passwords a lot, so we were able to generalize and derive these rules.
Dates.rul – pretty much what it says. Combines dictionary words with dates in various formats. This is a pretty common way to construct weak passwords.
L33t.rul – the “leet” lingo. Uses various combinations of ASCII characters to replace Latin letters. C001 hackers make super-strong passwords with these… It takes minutes to try them all.
Numbers.rul – mixes dictionary words with various number combinations.

How to trace criminals on Facebook

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Facebook lockThere has already been much said about enhanced federal activity in social networks “including but not limited to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr” etc. in order to gather suspects’ information and use it as evidence in investigation. However, far not everybody can understand (neither do three-letter agencies I suppose) how they can represent such info in courts and to what extent it should be trusted. (more…)

Have you chosen you next smartphone? Why not BlackBerry? :)

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Despite the fact that iPhone and Android keep on biting off greater parts of smartphone market, BlackBerry fans are still there, in spite of its various peculiarities. I won’t compare multi-touch displays, HD cameras, smart sensors, applications or anything like that. I’d rather talk about BlackBerry Desktop Software.  Yes, it can create backups, restore information from backups, and synchronize with Outlook only, period.  But that’s just not enough… (more…)

ElcomSoft Opens a Password Store to Sell Passwords Balancing Strength and Memorability

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Great news, ElcomSoft starts Elcomsoft Password Store, an online service to supply customers with guaranteed secure passwords. The new Password Store provides customers a variety of selections, and complies with all industrial and government requirements regarding the length and complexity of passwords being sold. As a value-added service, the company offers near-instant recovery of all passwords sold through its Password Store for a nominal fee.

The many different security policies and government regulations make standard practices of choosing passwords inadequate (passwords are too easy to break) or unfeasible (passwords are impossible to memorize, get written on yellow stickers, and get easily hijacked).  To facilitate the needs of its customers, ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. employed its extensive expertise in the areas of information security and password recovery, and offers a service to provide the perfect balance between password strength and memorability. After breaking millions of passwords, the company has inside information on what’s strong, what’s weak, and what’s adequate for every task.

Offering three strength levels and several additional options, ElcomSoft offers an economical way to create passwords perfect for the type of information they protect. Customers can choose passwords that are short and strong, long and extremely strong, or very long and guaranteed unbreakable. For a small extra fee, Password Store customers can choose passwords that are easy to pronounce or quick to memorize, without sacrificing a single bit of security. In addition, ElcomSoft offer a “gift-wrap” option that accompanies every password with a digital authenticity certificate.

As a value-added service, ElcomSoft offers exclusive password recovery service to all customers of its Password Store. For a nominal fee, forgotten passwords can be recovered in an instant. Under no circumstances will the company sell passwords to any third-parties or upload the lists to the three-letter agencies, government or law enforcement officials unless they become our clients and buy their own passwords.

More info at http://www.elcomsoft.com/password_store.html

Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome Passwords Cracked

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

What is a Web browser for you? It’s virtually a whole world, all together: web sites, blogging, photo and video sharing, social networks, instant messaging, shopping… did I forget anything? Oh yes, logins and passwords. :)  Set an account here, sign in there, register here and sing up there – everywhere you need logins and passwords to confirm your identity.

Yesterday, we recovered login and password information to Internet Explorer only, but it was yesterday… Now, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera Web browsers are at your disposal.

Let’s plunge into some figures…

(more…)

‘Casual and Secure’ Friday Post

Friday, May 14th, 2010

German law has always been strict about any possible security breaches. This week German court ordered that anyone using wireless networks should protect them with a password so the third party could not download data illegally.  

However, there is no order that users have to change their Wi-Fi passwords regularly, the only requirement being to set up a password on the initial stage of wireless access installation and configuration.

I’ve conducted a mini-research here in Russia. There are 5 wireless networks in range that my computer finds when at home. Although all of the networks have rather bizarre names, they are all WPA- or WPA2-protected. My guess is that people do not install wireless access at home by themselves or browse the Internet for instructions and find some on protection and passwords. At the same time, I often come across unprotected networks in Moscow and I do use them to check my Twitter account. It is obvious that to make any conclusions, one has to dive into this topic much more deeply.

What I learnt working for ElcomSoft – the company that recovers passwords and does it very well – is the following: sometimes a password is not enough. You need a good password to make sure your data is protected. WPA requires using passwords that are at least 8 characters long. Such length guarantees quite good protection. The problem as usual is the human factor. We still use admin123 and the like to protect our networks.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help you check how strong your WPA/WPA2-password is. One of such tools is Wireless Security Auditor. It makes use of various hardware for password recovery acceleration and a set of customizable dictionary attacks. The idea is simple: if this monster does not find your WPA/WPA2-password, then it is secure :)

Nice weekend to all.

New password-cracking hardware

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Some time ago we wrote about the smallest password cracking device. Not suitable for you? No problem, here is another one: not as small, but definitely more powerfull: Audi. Yes, it's a car. No, we're not kidding. Just read NVIDIA and Audi Marry Silicon Valley Technology with German Engineering press release from NVIDIA. Or if you need more information, The New MMI Generation from Audi might be also helpful. In brief: Audi A8 luxury sedan is equipped with an entertainment system that uses two GPUs from NVIDIA. We have no idea what are these chips (may be Fermi?) and is it technically possible to load our own code to them, but still funny, isn't it? :)

123 Out Goes… Your Password

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

About a month ago, a SQL Injection flaw was found in the database of RockYou.com, a website dealing with social networking applications. The Tech Herald reports that 32.6 million passwords were exposed and posted online due to the flaw. The complete examination of the passwords from the list showed that the passwords in question are not only short as RockYou.com allows creating 5-character-passwords but also alphanumeric only.

A half of the passwords from the list contained names, slang and dictionary words, or word combinations. The Tech Herald enumerates the most common passwords: “123456”, followed by “12345”, “123456789”, “Password”, “iloveyou”, “princess”, “rockyou”, “1234567”, “12345678”, and “abc123″ to round out the top 10. Other passwords included common names such as “Jessica”, “Ashley”, or patterns like “Qwerty”.

Although the findings of the survey are deplorable, most sites do nothing to improve password security. At the same time some websites block special characters and do not allow users to choose them for passwords making user accounts vulnerable to malicious attacks.

As a part of problem solution, the Tech Herald sees sites enforcing users a hard rule of character length. We at ElcomSoft share the opinion that a password must be at least 9 characters long, consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and – preferably – special characters.

The article also highlights greater risks for the companies as attackers are using more advanced brute force attacks. According to the Tech Herald, “if an attacker would’ve used the list of the top 5000 passwords as a dictionary for brute force attack on Rockyou.com users, it would take only one attempt (per account) to guess 0.9-percent of the user’s passwords, or a rate of one success per 111 attempts”.

Related articles and publications:

A list of passwords used by the Conficker Worm Daniel V. Klein, ”Foiling the Cracker”: A Survey of, and Improvements to, Password Security,” 1990.

New sweeping WPA Cracker & its alternatives

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

It’s a well-know fact that WPA-PSK networks are vulnerable to dictionary attacks, though one cannot but admit that running a respectable-sized dictionary over a WPA network handshake can take days or weeks.

A low-cost service for penetration testers that checks the security of wireless networks by running passwords against a 135-million-word dictionary has been recently unveiled. The so-called WPA Cracker is a cloud-based service that accesses a 400-CPU cluster. For $34, it can run a password against all 135 million entries in about 20 minutes. Want to pay less, do it for $17 and wait 40 minutes to see the results.

Another notable feature is the use of the dictionary that has been set up specifically for cracking Wi-Fi Protected Access passwords. While Windows, UNIX and other systems allow short passwords, WPA pass codes must contain a minimum of eight characters. Its entries use a variety of words, common phrases and "elite speak" that have been compiled with WPA networks in mind.

WPA Cracker is used by capturing a wireless network's handshake locally and then uploading it, along with the network name. The service then compares the PBKDF2, or Password-Based Key Derivation Function, against the dictionary. The approach makes sense, considering each handshake is salted using the network's ESSID, a technique that makes rainbow tables only so useful.

Everything seems to be perfect, but for the fact that there exists another alternative to crack WPA passwords which allows to reach the same speed. Just instead of installing a 400-CPU cluster, it’s possible to set 4 top Radeons or about two Teslas and try Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor.

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor: WPA-PSK Password Audit

More on Radeon HD 5000

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Tom’s Hardware is a really good source we can definitely trust, so if you need more details on Radeon HD 5000-series cards (specifications and prices) that are coming soon, just read:

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: September ’09

Update (Sep 16th): GT300 could outperform the Radeon HD5870

Update (Sep 22nd): ATI Radeon HD 5870 pricing and specs list revealed

Update (Sep 23rd): ATI Radeon HD 5870: DirectX 11, Eyefinity, And Serious Speed