This article opens a new series dedicated to breaking passwords. It’s no secret that simply getting a good password recovery tool is not enough to successfully break a given password. Brute-force attacks are inefficient for modern formats (e.g. encrypted Office 2013 documents), while using general dictionaries can still be too much for speedy attacks and too little to actually work. In this article, we’ll discuss the first of the two relatively unknown vectors of attack that can potentially break 30 to 70 per cent of real-world passwords in a matter of minutes. The second method will be described in the follow-up article. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘password’
Two-factor authentication is great when it comes to securing access to someone’s account. It’s not so great when it gets in the way of accessing your account. However, in emergency situations things can turn completely ugly. In this article we’ll discuss steps you can do to minimize the negative consequences of using two-factor authentication if you lose access to your trusted device and your trusted phone number. In order to keep the size of this text reasonable we’ll only talk about Apple’s implementation, namely Two-Step Verification and Two-Factor Authentication. You can read more about those in our previous blog post.
The previous article was about the theory. In this part we’ll go directly to practice. If you possess a turned on and locked iOS device and have no means of unlocking it with either Touch ID or passcode, you may still be able to obtain a backup via the process called logical acquisition. While logical acquisition may return somewhat less information compared to the more advanced physical acquisition, it must be noted that physical acquisition may not be available at all on a given device.
Important: Starting with iOS 8, obtaining a backup is only possible if the iOS device was unlocked with a passcode at least once after booting. For this reason, if you find an iPhone that is turned on, albeit locked, do not turn it off. Instead, isolate it from wireless networks by placing it into a Faraday bag, and do not allow it to power off or completely discharge by connecting it to a charger (a portable power pack inside a Faraday bag works great until you transfer the device to a lab). This will give you time to searching user’s computers for a lockdown record.
A Practical Guide for the Rest of Us
How many passwords does an average Joe or Jane has to remember? Obviously, it’s not just one or two. Security requirements vary among online services, accounts and applications, allowing (or disallowing) certain passwords. Seven years ago, Microsoft determined in a study that an average user had 6.5 Web passwords, each of which is shared across about four different websites. They’ve also determined that, back then, each user had about 25 accounts that required passwords, and typed an average of 8 passwords per day.
It didn’t change much in 2012. Another study determined that an average person has 26 online accounts, but uses only five passwords to keep them secure, typing about 10 passwords per day. CSID has a decent report on password usage among American consumers, discovering that as many as 54% consumers have five or less passwords, while another 28% reported using 6 to 10 passwords. Only 18% had more than 10 passwords. 61% of all questioned happily reuse their passwords over and over.
This obviously indicates a huge risk, making all these people susceptible to attacks on their passwords. Why do we have this situation, and what should one do to keep one’s life secure against hacker attacks? Let’s try to find out.
Passwords: Plagued with Problems
Passwords are the most common way of securing the many aspects of our lives. However, password-based protection is plagued with problems. Let’s have a look at why passwords are less than perfect when it comes to security. (more…)
With little news on physical acquisition of the newer iPhones, we made every effort to explore the alternatives. One of the alternatives to physical acquisition is over-the-air acquisition from Apple iCloud, allowing investigators accessing cloud backups stored in the cloud. While this is old news (we learned to download data from iCloud more than two years ago), this time we have something completely different: access to iCloud backups without a password! The latest release of Phone Password Breaker is all about password-free acquisition of iCloud backups. (more…)
ElcomSoft Discovers Most of Its Customers Want Stricter Security Policies but Won’t Bother Changing Default PasswordsWednesday, February 22nd, 2012
We runned yet another Password Usage Bahaviour survey on our Web site and gthered statistically significant data, reflected in the following charts. And the main conclusion was that most people working with sensitive information want stricter security policies but rarely bother changing default passwords.
Less than 50% of all respondents come from Computer Law, Educational, Financial, Forensics, Government, Military and Scientific organizations. The larger half of respondents comes from ‘Other’ type of organizations.
Less than 30% of respondents indicated they have never forgotten a password. Most frequently quoted reasons for losing a password to a resource would be infrequent use of a resource (28%), not writing it down (16%), returning from a vacation (13%).
Only about 25% of all respondents indicated they change their passwords regularly. The rest will either change their passwords infrequently (24%), sporadically or almost never.
The quiz revealed a serious issue with how most respondents handle default passwords (passwords that are automatically generated or assigned to their accounts by system administrators). Only 28% of respondents would always change the default password, while more than 50% would usually keep the assigned one. In ElcomSoft’s view, this information should really raise an alert with IT security staff and call for a password security audit. ElcomSoft offers a relevant tool, Proactive Password Auditor, allowing organizations performing an audit of their network account passwords.
Unsurprisingly for a sample with given background, most respondents weren’t happy about their organizations’ security policies, being in either full or partial disagreement with their employer’s current policy (61%). 76% of all respondents indicated they wanted a stricter security policy, while 24% would want a looser one. The surprising part is discovered in the next chart: of those who are fully content with their employers’ security policies, only 11% would leave it as it is, 20% would vote for a looser policy, and 69% would rather have a stricter security policy.
The complete results and charts are available at http://www.elcomsoft.com/PR/quiz-charts.pdf
Apple iWork, an inexpensive office productivity suite for the Mac and iOS platforms, has been around since 2005 and 2011 respectively. The iWork suite consists of three apps: Numbers, Pages, and Keynotes, and gained quite some popularity among Apple followers. Yet, for all this time, no one came out with a feasible password recovery solution for the iWork document format.
The reason for the lack of a password recovery solution for the iWork format is extremely slow recovery speed. This owes to Apple’s implementation of encryption: the company used an industry-standard AES algorithm with strong, 128-bit keys. Brute-forcing a 128-bit number on today’s hardware remains impossible. The original, plain-text password has to be recovered in order to decrypt protected iWork documents.
However, recovering that plain-text password is also very slow. Apple used the PBKDF2 algorithm to derive an encryption key from plain-text passwords, with some 4000 iterations of a hash function (SHA1). While it takes only a hundredth of a second to verify a single password, an attack would be speed-limited to about 500 passwords per second on today’s top hardware. This is extremely slow considering the number of possible password combinations.
When starting considering the addition of Apple iWork to the list of supported products, we quickly recognized the speed bottleneck. With as slow a recovery, a distributed attack on the password would be the only feasible one. Indeed, using multiple computers connected to a large cluster gives us more speed, breaking the barrier of unreasonable and promising realistic recovery timeframe. Brute-forcing is still not a good option, but ElcomSoft’s advanced dictionary attack with customizable masks and configurable permutations is very feasible if we consider one thing: the human factor.
The Human Factor
Let’s look at the product one more time. Apple iWork is sold to mobile users for $9.99. Mac customers can purchase the suite for $79. These price points clearly suggest that Apple is targeting the consumer market, not government agencies and not corporations with established security policies enforcing the use of long, complex, strong passwords.
Multiple researches confirm it’s a given fact that most people, if not enforced by a security policy, will choose simple, easy to remember passwords such as ‘abc’, ‘password1’ or their dog’s name. In addition, it’s in the human nature to reduce the number of things to remember. Humans are likely to re-use their passwords, with little or no variation, in various places: their instant messenger accounts, Web and email accounts, social networks and other places from which a password can be easily retrieved.
Considering all this, 500 passwords per second doesn’t sound that bad anymore. Which brings us to the announcement: Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery now supports Apple iWork, becoming an industry-first tool and the only product so far to recover passwords for Numbers, Pages and Keynotes apps. It’s the human factor and advanced dictionary attacks that help it recover a significant share of iWork passwords in reasonable time.
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
Although this new book is on sale from January this year, we are happy to officially say our words of gratitude to Kevin Beaver and advise it to you.
In his book Kevin insists that the best way to really understand how to protect your systems and assess their security is to think from a hacker’s viewpoint, get involved, learn how systems can be attacked, find and eliminate their vulnerabilities. It all practically amounts to being inquisitive and focusing on real problems as in contrast to blindly following common security requirements without understanding what it’s all about.
Kevin extensively writes on the questions of cracking passwords and weak encryption implementations in widely used operating systems, applications and networks. He also suggests Elcomsoft software, in particular Advanced Archive Password Recovery, Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery, Elcomsoft System Recovery, Proactive Password Auditor, and Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor, as effective tools to regularly audit system security and close detected holes.
In this guide Kevin communicates the gravity of ethical hacking in very plain and clear words and gives step –by- step instructions to follow. He easily combines theory and praxis providing valuable tips and recommendations to assess and then improve security weaknesses in your systems.
We want to thank Kevin for testing and including our software in his very “digestible” beginner guide to hacking and recommend our readers this book as a helpful tool to get all facts in order.
Hello! Yet again, we have launched a survey on password usage behavior.
As our previous survey went like a breeze (you will find the report in our archives), it is a logical next step that we decide to try one more time. From the very first survey we gained curious info, which was also interesting to publicity. Naturally questions about password protection are numerous and some of them remain dark, possibly a little too much so, that is why we are tempted to undertake one more “investigation”.
This time we expanded on questions and made some of them hypothetical, where you are put into a situation to find a way out. It is interesting to trace your way of thinking on both hypothetical and actual matters, so other questions are suggested to understand your attitude to real everyday situations you have to deal with.
As usually, survey completion will be finalized by a report.
We tried not to inundate our questionnaire with baffling questions, but if you still consider it time-consuming, you are welcome to answer one absurdly simple question on home page of ElcomSoft website.
C’mon you are within an ace of getting 10% discount for all our software; just find a little will-power to put a couple of ticks. Again, thank you for taking time from your busy day and completing our questionnaire. And feel free to channel this survey to your friends and colleagues.
Best of luck!