Prime 5 Password Cracking Strategies Utilized by Hackers

One of many largest safety threats is password cracking. Are you an IT system administrator involved concerning the safety of your group’s information?

On this article, we’ll present an outline of password cracking, talk about the significance of sturdy passwords, and element the highest 5 password cracking strategies hackers use.

We’ll additionally present real-world examples of password-cracking assaults and their impression and proposals for enhancing password safety.

Whether or not you are a seasoned IT skilled or simply getting began, it is advisable perceive these password cracking strategies to assist higher safe your group’s information.

What Goes Into Cracking a Password

Many customers might have seen password cracking portrayed in films as a fast and spectacular feat. However, it’s far much less flashy and probably far more time-consuming, in keeping with this 2022 Hive report. Password cracking usually includes brute-forcing a password utilizing varied strategies.

To grasp password cracking, it’s essential to first perceive how passwords are saved. There are two major methods to retailer passwords: encryption and hashing.

Encryption transforms plaintext into reversible ciphertext, which permits password managers to retailer and show the unique plaintext password.

However, hashing is the standard technique used for storing passwords for on-line companies.

Since service operators need not reverse passwords, solely to confirm they’re appropriate, passwords are hashed. Hash algorithms convert plaintext values into ciphertext in a one-way course of.

Earlier than making an attempt to crack a password, an attacker should retrieve the ciphertext worth, typically by means of man-in-the-middle assaults, hacked credential databases, or phishing makes an attempt.

Finally, the attacker can start their work as soon as the ciphertext worth has been obtained, usually as a hash worth.

Password Cracking Strategies & Instruments of the Commerce

As soon as an attacker has obtained the hash, the following step is to crack the password. Most password-cracking strategies contain brute-forcing the password, however there are methods to make this course of extra environment friendly and simple.

Brute Forcing

Generally, the one method to discover a password is to aim each potential mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. If the password is random, many different strategies to make the job simpler might not work.

This method is the least environment friendly, however it could be the one possibility when all else fails.

An attacker might use a pc or a cluster of computer systems to aim each potential variation. The longer the password, the tougher and time-consuming the cracking course of turns into.

For instance of occasions, listed here are some current findings from the 2023 Hive report on how lengthy, passwords with lowercase and uppercase letters verses extra advanced passwords (i.e., numbers, higher and lowercase letters, and symbols in an MD5 hash) take to crack.


Decrease & Uppercase Letters

Complicated Passwords

8 Characters

22 minutes

8 hours

9 Characters

19 hours

3 weeks

10 Characters

1 month

5 years

11 Characters

5 years

500 years

12 Characters

300 years

34k years

Rainbow Desk

Since hashing algorithms are publicly identified, it’s potential to create large lists of pre-computed password hashes {that a} stolen hash may be in contrast towards. As an alternative of producing a brand new hash for each variation, lookup the stolen hash towards a desk to see if it matches.

There are lots of completely different hash strategies and near-infinite password variations, which might shortly make managing and storing tables like this very troublesome. There’s one other approach often called password salting that may additionally throw a wrench on this approach. If the server provides random values to the entrance and finish of a hash (values identified solely to the server), then the ensuing hashes gained’t match identified values anymore.

Dictionary Assault

To make brute-forcing a password simpler, attackers can use dictionaries of widespread phrases and phrases and firm names, sports activities groups, and so forth. This narrows down the record of potential password decisions.

Prior to now, customers had been really useful to vary their password typically (e.g., each 90 days) and to make use of advanced passwords.

However, this led to customers selecting passwords like !yoda2023#, which makes the job of a password cracker simpler. As soon as the bottom phrase, yoda, is guessed by means of a dictionary assault, making an attempt a couple of completely different symbols and numbers can shortly crack the password.

Within the picture beneath you’ll be able to see the highest 5 Star Wars themed base phrases which might be utilized in compromised passwords.

Top 5 Star Wars-themed passwords
Prime 5 Star Wars-themed passwords
Supply: Specops

A extra superior type of a dictionary assault is the Markov chain assault. This includes a statistical evaluation of a listing of phrases saved in a desk and used to calculate the likelihood of character placement in a brute-force assault.

Credential Stuffing

Customers generally use the identical root password throughout a number of companies. If one password is damaged on a service, an attacker can shortly attempt that very same password or variations on different companies to which the consumer might have entry.

Often known as credential stuffing, attackers will attempt the cracked password on a number of companies to attempt completely different passwords on the identical service. This can lead to all the consumer’s companies being compromised.

Weak (Insecure) Password Hashes

After all, not all password hashing schemes are created equal. As expertise evolves, what was as soon as thought-about safe might now not be so. That is true for hash algorithms like MD5 or SHA-1, which may be cracked shortly.

A system that shops consumer password hashes with one among these algorithms may have its complete database cracked shortly.

Fashionable methods advocate safer algorithms, resembling bcrypt, which makes use of salted password hashes.

Password Cracking Instruments

Although the strategies themselves are important to know, many password crackers depend on available instruments.

Although three normal instruments are listed beneath, many extra can be found. All the beneath are open-source and community-developed, which implies they’re ever-evolving.

  • John the Ripper – Helps a whole bunch of hash varieties throughout many purposes and is accessible on a number of platforms.
  • Hashcat – Works with the CPU and GPU to offer a high-speed command-line password-cracking instrument supporting many hash varieties.
  • Ophcrack – A instrument primarily based round rainbow tables centered on LM and NTLM passwords utilized in Home windows environments.

Although these instruments make it far simpler to crack retrieved hashes, loads of customized instruments may be tailor-made to particular person organizations. A sturdy and up-to-date password coverage is important to defending a company.

How Customers Ought to Shield Themselves

With all of the speak of password cracking, what ought to a consumer do to guard themselves? Fashionable safety organizations resembling NIST, although their 800-63B pointers, now advocate the next:

  • Ditch the common password change necessities. Solely change passwords if requested explicitly by a consumer or if a password has been breached.
  • Lower the arbitrary want for password complexity and deal with general password size, such at least of 12 characters.
  • All new passwords have to be in contrast towards generally used or beforehand compromised passwords.
  • Don’t reuse passwords throughout completely different companies to keep away from assaults resembling credential stuffing.
  • Elevated hash safety implies that even shorter passwords take far longer to crack, resembling MD5 vs. PBKDF2.

Specops Password Coverage: Retaining Organizations Secure

Cracking instruments and strategies proceed to grow to be more and more refined and quicker. To remain forward of the curve, instruments resembling Specops Password Coverage work hand-in-hand with Lively Listing to make sure you are utilizing the most recent suggestions and following compliance necessities.

With options resembling customized dictionaries, distinctive and customizable password insurance policies, and highly effective cracked password prevention with the Breached Password Safety add-on, Specops Password Coverage goes a protracted method to preserving your group secure.

Specops Password Policy
Specops Password Coverage

Defending Organizations In opposition to Password Cracking

With the numerous instruments and strategies out there to password crackers, it’s no marvel that password breaches are common occurrences.

Enhance your safety with instruments resembling Specops Password Coverage and guarantee your group and customers don’t fall sufferer to the numerous menace actors on the market.

Keep forward of the unhealthy guys with securely designed password insurance policies and root out beforehand cracked passwords with breached password detection!

Sponsored and written by Specops Software program

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