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Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards
Security
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 17 August 2010 17:09

From Information Week


Georgia Tech researchers find that high-end, readily available graphics processing units are powerful enough to easily crack secret codes.

Passwords with fewer than 12 characters can be quickly brute-force decoded using a PC graphics processing unit (GPU) that costs just a few hundred dollars, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Today's top graphics processors offer about two teraflops of parallel processing power. For comparison, "in the year 2000, the world's fastest supercomputer, a cluster of linked machines costing $110 million, operated at slightly more than 7 teraflops," he said.



The barrier to using multi-core graphics processors -- available from Nvidia or AMD's ATI division -- for compute-intensive processes other than graphics processing, said Boyd, first fell in 2007, when Nvidia released a C-based software development kit. "Once Nvidia did that, interest in GPUs really started taking off," he said. "If you can write a C program, you can program a GPU now." Or use it to crack a password.

Discover how the EV standard increases authentication status visibility in the latest web browsers
Extended Validation SSL Certificates

Furthermore, thanks to Moore's Law, graphics processors continue to increase in power, which means that GPUs will get better, not worse, at cracking passwords.

But who needs a graphics processor? People often create and rely on simple passwords, and many websites use passwords more for psychological than security purposes.

 

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