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Passwords can be cracked in 12 seconds with £30 GPUs

Cheap as chips graphics cards aid hackers
Wed Oct 05 2011, 14:17

HACKERS CAN FIGURE OUT your password in less than 12 seconds thanks to high street graphics cards that cost as little as £30, business hosting firm UKFast revealed as part of Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The company performed tests using an Nvidia Geforce GT220 graphics card, which can be bought for £30 at some retailers, on a Windows 7 machine. It found that its security staff were able to crack an eight character password in four hours, a seven character password in five minutes and a six character password in just 12 seconds.

UKFast found that these cheap graphics card could process as much as 158 million possible passwords per second, putting previously complex and relatively unbreakable passwords at risk of being cracked by the sheer volume of potential combinations available over a short period of time.

For cyber criminals with more money at their fingertips, a top end graphics card costing £600 can process 10.3 billion possible password combinations per second, truly endangering password security.

"A typical home GPU can process 9 million passwords per second, this really shows the power of these graphic processing units. Reasonably complex passwords can therefore be compromised quite quickly by using cheap consumer hardware," said Stuart Coulson, a security expert at UKFast.

While these findings suggest that even complex passwords are now at risk from the sheer processing power of graphics cards, they also demonstrate that each extra character in a password significantly increases the time it takes to crack a password. Choosing longer passwords with a greater variety of numbers, letters and symbols, and changing them regularly, remains the best defence against hackers. µ


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