Interesting research from Elcomsoft, using the parallel processing capacity of graphics cards to speed up the password cracking process.
Pretty inventive thinking, as graphics cards get more and more powerful, and they are created to do massive parallel tasks for all the latest and greatest games, why not apply it to password cracking!
A technique for cracking computer passwords using inexpensive off-the-shelf computer graphics hardware is causing a stir in the computer security community.
Elcomsoft, a software company based in Moscow, Russia, has filed a US patent for the technique. It takes advantage of the “massively parallel processing” capabilities of a graphics processing unit (GPU) – the processor normally used to produce realistic graphics for video games.
Using an $800 graphics card from nVidia called the GeForce 8800 Ultra, Elcomsoft increased the speed of its password cracking by a factor of 25, according to the company’s CEO, Vladimir Katalov.
A top end graphics cards makes your cracking 25 times faster, now that’s a pretty impressive increase if you ask me. Worth investing for regular pen-testers who do a lot of cracking to test password strength.
The toughest passwords, including those used to log in to a Windows Vista computer, would normally take months of continuous computer processing time to crack using a computer’s central processing unit (CPU). By harnessing a $150 GPU – less powerful than the nVidia 8800 card – Elcomsoft says they can cracked in just three to five days. Less complex passwords can be retrieved in minutes, rather than hours or days.
Elcomsoft says it took three months to develop code to take advantage of a GPU, and the company plans to introduce the feature into some of its password cracking products over time.
I’ll be watching where this goes and will be interested to see if any open source tools come out capitalise on the GPU capability.
Source: New Scientist