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GPU Processes Fast to Crack Passwords

According to a software company in Russia, it can crack passwords for computers with the help of a new technique it has developed that uses inexpensive readymade graphics hardware.

The software company called Elcomsoft, located in Moscow, Russia, has requested a US patent for this technique. The technique exploits the capabilities of a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit that can carry out a number of parallel processes. The GPU processor is generally used to generate realistic images for online video games.

Hackers who use NVidia's GeForce 8800 graphics card could remarkably cut the time required to crack passwords of the brute-force method. According to Elcomsoft, the GeForce 8800 could hasten password cracking 25 times faster.

While the highly protected passwords, for e.g. those employed to log onto a PC running Windows Vista, generally need months to unravel them after extensive computer processing. Elcomsoft said its hardware could perform the task in just a few days.

By using a GPU that hastens password cracking, Elcomsoft's hardware would need only three to five days to do the job, said Vladimir Katalov, Chief Executive Officer of Elcomsoft. The Times of India published this in news in the fourth week of October, 2007. For passwords that are not so complex, the software company needs only minutes to retrieve them, he said.

Spokesman for NVidia, Andrew Humber, said that the job of the hardware was similar to hunting words or phrases in a book. The Times of India reported this in the fourth week of October 2007.

A processor in a normal computer would go over a book from the first to the last page. But a GPU would divide the book into 100,000 parts and read them all simultaneously, Humber explained.

European Director Calum Macleod at Cyber-Ark, a data encryption company, said that Elcomsoft's innovation is capable of shaking the world of IT security, as it demonstrates how powerful readymade kits could help in developing sophisticated hacking procedures. Vnunet published this in news on October 29, 2007.

He said this was a strong alert for companies calling them to adopt an encryption mechanism for their data.

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