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In most cases, computer access is protected by username and password.Usually it is not too difficult to find out some or all user nameson a given computer. Names leak as email addresses and in usenet posts.Utilities like finger or rwho may give some.There are many standard user names, root being the most obvious one.System logs and similar may be visible on the web, and found using Google.
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Finding the password is not so simple. Usually one has to brute-force,trying all words in a dictionary, a list of first names, or just allstrings of at most six printable symbols.A good password cracker is John the Ripper.Given the passwd file of some Unix machine, say with two or three dozenuser names and passwords, one normally finds two or three vulnerable oneswithin a day or two.
How does one obtain the passwd file? On a local machine it is justreadable. Sometimes one can obtain it remotely via anonymous ftp,or via a CGI script, using a .../../../../../etc/passwdparameter. Of course, nowadays people often use shadow password files,and these may be more difficult to obtain.
On most Unix systems, passwords are at most 8 characters long.Picking control characters or non-ASCII characters is bound togive problems when logging in remotely via other systems, soit is reasonable to expect characters in the range 32-126.Now 95^6 = 0.74 . 10^12 and 95^8 = 0.66 . 10^16 so if one cancheck one password in a microsecond then nine days suffice tocheck all strings of length at most six. (On my computer a DES-typecheck takes 10 microseconds.)
I find that common passwords include '' (the empty string),'secret', 'password' (and in Holland the Dutch versions'geheim', 'wachtwoord'), strings of consecutive digits or letters like'123', '12345', '1234567', 'abc', and proper names like 'eric', 'kevin','sandra', 'melissa', 'Nikita'.
Having passwords in cleartext in a file is a bad idea - they willbe compromised. Unix introduced the idea of feeding the passwordto some one-way hash function and storing the result.Now the password file /etc/passwd can (and does) havegeneral read permission.
AnecdoteIn the Unix V6 days I once gave a Polish colleague a usernameand password, and told him his username and said that he couldguess the password. He sat down and logged in, and was surprisedthat it worked. `How did you know I was going to try "ladne"?'But I had given him the password "aline".
(Thus, we found a collision. Rechecking:# passwd kaUsage: passwd user password# passwd ka aline# grep ka /etc/passwdka:ugiTjezp:11:1::/usr/ka:# passwd ka ladne# grep ka /etc/passwdka:ugiTjezp:11:1::/usr/ka:#We see another weakness here: this version of passwdrequired the password on the command line. This means that itwould be visible to someone who did ps at the same time.)
The input to this encryption consists of a 12-bit saltconcatenated with the user's password. The 64-bit output isconverted to an 11-char string and compared to the entry in/etc/passwd, which has a 13-char string representingsalt and encrypted password.(DES has two inputs: key and data. Here salt plus passwordis used as 64-bit key, and the initial data is the constant zero.)
This is what the standard Unix routine crypt() does.Today it is fairly insecure. Exhaustive search is feasiblewith special purpose hardware, and the speed of 100000 attempts/secondis too high. Only 8 characters of the password are used.The salt is too small - it is quite feasible to precomputethe encryption for all possible 4096 salts and all words in a largedictionary or word list and store the result on disk.
What to do about the weakness of crypt()?The main defense is now the use of shadow password files,that is, the hiding of the password file from the users.But that has all the problems that caused Unix to abandona plaintext password file. It is better to replace crypt().
Various cryptographic hash functions are designed to be fast,and such that constructing collisions or finding preimages isinfeasible. That latter property is precisely what is neededfor password encryption, but a password hash must be slow.Brute force cracking of raw MD5 is very easy.
In order to overcome this difficulty, FreeBSD 4.2 switched to a complicatedalgorithm based on MD5. That had several advantages: it is a bit stronger,with 128-bit output instead of 64-bit, it uses the entire password insteadof only the first 8 characters, and it is slower (the digest is rehasheda thousand times), so brute force takes longer.(On my machine 2000 attempts/sec, against 100000 for modified DES.)Also RedHat 6.0 and up uses MD5 (but SuSE does not by default - ach).These FreeBSD-type MD5 passwords can be recognized as 34-char encryptedpasswords starting with $1$. The first 8 characters followingare the salt. Poul-Henning Kamp described hisdesign criteria.
Niels Provos and David Mazières developed bcrypt(),the best choice for a password hash today. It is based on Blowfish,and contains facilities for making the algorithm arbitrarily expensive.It is used by OpenBSD, and has passwords starting with $2$,$2a$, $2x$, or $2y$. Brute force is even slower here, at 100 attempts/sec.
Various implementations of crypt() have suffered from problemsin an 8-bit environment since the programmers expected ASCII input.What to do with non-ASCII bytes? In some implementations they werereplaced by '?', so that a strong password turned into the constant string"????????". In some implementations the high order bit was masked off,so that 0x80 became end-of-string. In 2011 a sign-extension bug wasdiscovered in the Openwall implementation of Blowfish.The $2y$-prefix in bcrypt()-generated passwordsindicates that they were generated by a post-fix algorithm.
The PKZIP utility is used to create compressed archives.The format of the outputfileis well-documented. One can protect archives with a password.In the Microsoft world many (usually commercial) brute forceZIP password crackers are available, the most famous beingElcomsoft's AZPR. In the Unix world one has zipcracker(for distributed cracking over a Beowulf network) and fcrackzip(for simple and fast brute force), that come with source code.There is also pkcrack that implements the algorithmdescribed by Eli Biham and Paul Kocher and uses some (at least 13 bytes)known plaintext. Altogether, it is usually feasible to find thepassword of a traditional ZIP archive. Recognizing that the passwordprotection had become too weak, PKZIP 5.0 introduced stronger encryption.
Adobe's Portable Document Format is one of the more popular formatsin which to distribute files representing printed material.Such files are commonly viewed with Acrobat Reader or with xpdf.The format allows the creator of the file to set certain protections.The protection comes in two flavours: protection bits andpassword protection. There may be two passwords: the owner'spassword and the user password.
For people who don't know how to do this themselves,Password Crackers Inc. will remove permission bit protection of some documentfor $40, and password protection for $500. They write:Our Acrobat .pdf recovery service does not brute-force check for passwords.We search for the encryption key that Acrobat used to encrypt the file.There are many fewer keys than possible passwords, hence we are able tosearch all of the possible keys in less than 25 days.
Many services come with a default password and instructionsto change that immediately, but often the default is left.See (the old and outdated) Default Password List to find, e.g., the default Debian LILO password,or the old Slackware user names without password.See also this webzcan list.
ExampleWWWBoardis a threaded World Wide Web discussion forum and message board.It comes with a default password fileWebAdmin:aepTOqxOi4i8U(or WebAdmin:aeb/uHhRv6x2LQvxyii4Azf1, orWebAdmin:$1$ae$eVdFF2d.W9C3JSO3qluZ70)where the password is WebBoard. It is easy to find instances of WWWBoardwith the default password untouched, for example in /bbs/passwd.txt.Now in /cgi-bin/wwwadmin.pl one might find the admin scriptand help the sysadmin by discarding unwanted messages.
Cisco reports (April 2004): A default username/password pair is presentin all releases of the Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) andHosting Solution Engine (HSE) software. A user who logs in usingthis username has complete control of the device. This usernamecannot be disabled. There is no workaround.
Three days later we see: Backdoor in X-Micro WLAN 11b Broadband Router:The following username and password works in every case, even if youset an other password on the web interface:Username: super,Password: super.By default the builtin webserver is listening on all networkinterfaces (if connected to the internet, then it is accessible fromthe internet too). Using the webinterface one can install newfirmware, download the old, view your password, etc., etc.(This is a funny one. The X-Micro people soon "fixed" this problem,and released new firmware. The new firmware has backdoor usernameand password "1502".)
Some systems allow read-only access to kernel memory (e.g. in orderto allow the ps utility to read system tables), and onecan read tty input buffers and snoop passwords.(Nostalgia - this worked beautifully on Unix V6.)
Some passwords are sufficiently interesting to be published in the news.Usually such posts are removed rather quickly again, but internet has amemory, and it is very difficult to erase what was published once.For example, recently (2007-02-11) arnezami publishedthat the processing key for HD DVD discs is09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0.Today Google gives more than a million hits on this string.
Many sites have lists of cracked MD5 passwords. So if you find one, sayc3875d07f44c422f3b3bc019c23e16ae, then ask Google before tryingto crack. Immediately a dozen sites will tell you that this is denis.
If one is going to do brute force, a lot of time is needed.But if passwords have to be cracked repeatedly, it is possibleto do an (expensive) precomputation with the result that subsequentpassword cracking will be fast. 041b061a72