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Comment Re:why not adapt (Score 4, Interesting) 61

The existing password hashing methods won't run on GPU well for user authentication, even when they do run well for cracking passwords. They lack sufficient parallelism within one hash computation. This is an issue I first raised in 1998, in pre-GPU context (it applies to recent CPUs as well, and the problem is getting worse with time).

A solution is to define a new password hashing method with sufficient (configurable) parallelism within one instance. We could then consider running it on GPU, unless it is GPU-unfriendly by other criteria. Do we really want to, though? GPUs in servers are not yet common, except in computing clusters. Their reliability may be lower than that of other typical server components. The drivers are currently relatively unreliable as well (although they may be reliable enough if running the same code, with no upgrades). Sure, computing clusters use them anyway, and get them to run reliably enough for their needs, but the extra hurdle and/or risk is there. Will we get embedded GPUs in typical servers soon? Will they be similar to current gamers' or HPC GPUs or not? This is not clear. Then there's Intel MIC, which delivers GPU-like performance, but is a lot closer to a CPU - it will require a lot of parallelism in the algorithm too, but it may run certain types of otherwise GPU-unfriendly code. Is this possibly a better target?

For current GPUs, a better strategy might be to make them inefficient - by using GPU-unfriendly hashes (for cracking, and for validation as well - as a side-effect).

We had a project last summer to research this kind of possibilities, focusing on use of FPGA boards in authentication servers. This could optionally buy us GPU-unfriendliness (if we want to make things more difficult for attackers with GPUs, but not FPGAs, and for botnets, which almost surely will lack FPGAs). We even considered some moderate CPU-unfriendliness of the component that we'd put on FPGA. Specifically, we experimented with bcrypt on FPGA, as well as with much smaller Blowfish-like "non-crypto" cores (not actual Blowfish), so that we could hopefully fit hundreds or thousands of those per chip (and have them somewhat CPU-unfriendly as well). Yuri, our GSoC 2011 student working on this project, did have some of this implemented in an experimental fashion, and some of it even worked (on FPGA boards kindly provided by Pico Computing), but an outcome of the summer project was that this would be time-consuming to bring to desired levels of performance and reliability. At that point, the project was put on hold.

A simpler and cheaper alternative (if there are only a handful of customers for this) may be to use dedicated servers, existing HSMs, or microcontrollers for just the password hashing. Indeed, microcontrollers are super slow, so their only function would be to hold and apply a local parameter, with the rest of the hashing method implemented on the host's CPU and RAM. If dedicated servers are used, they would need to be separate from authentication servers - that is, they won't know usernames, won't have access to any database, won't have any persistent storage except for the local parameter, and the OS and software indeed. They will accept password, salt, and parameters (such as the configurable per-hash processing and memory cost settings), and provide the hash. Thus, their attack surface would be minimal and they'd provide an extra layer of security against network-based attacks. We'd do this with FPGA boards as well, and we'd also have the greater/unusual computational complexity as a security layer (in case the local parameter or its backup copy is leaked/stolen), but well - using typical and pre-existing server hardware, drivers, etc. is just simpler and cheaper unless we start a new business and expect to have plenty of customers (although that might be possible).

Prospective customers for these solutions involving extra hardware would be organizations with large user/password databases (millions of records): social networks, major service providers, banks, some government sites.

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 1) 61

Yes, you don't need to reference a dictionary when you approve something as a passphrase. passwdqc does not reference a dictionary for that. However, you mentioned requiring "a couple of punctuation chars" - and this almost ensures at least 3 words (well, it could also be e.g. a single word mangled by inserting/replacing characters, which is why I said "almost"). passwdqc has a similar requirement, although it does not insist on punctuation specifically. For non-repeats, passwdqc insists on there being enough different characters for the required minimum length (not for the actual length - there's no problem with some repetition if the minimum would be reached without those portions anyway).

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 2) 61

Sure, but fully going from a passphrase to a phrase-derived short password likely reduces guessing entropy (not the same thing as Shannon entropy, by the way; the latter is even more obviously reduced, but is less relevant). In fact, I think some of the passwords that JtR cracks in its incremental mode (which considers character frequencies) are actually built using the first-letter-of-each-word method. Indeed, many of those passwords will happen to use a subset of possible characters only - those that are more common as first letters of words. In your example, this is defeated by the use of non-letters and capital letters (which may be less frequent than even the least frequent lowercase letters at these character positions), but still. Overall, I think c2RlfV&t would be a decent password for many kinds of uses (if you did not post it, indeed), but it would not provide equivalent security to that of the original passphrase (if that one were not posted as well).

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 3, Informative) 61

On a serious note, entropy grows with length less than linearly, and you've provided a good example of that. This means that there's little point in using a passphrase this long. A replacement for yours could be: "cannon to R,L,F of them Volley'd and thunder'd" - perhaps about as easy (or as difficult) to memorize and recall reliably, likely roughly the same guessing entropy, but much shorter to type.

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 4, Informative) 61

I've been using passphrases for about 12 years (and more than that if we count those passphrases on PGP and SSH keys as well), and I'm not growing out of it yet. I often use mixed-character-type passwords as well, and my phrases often use weird word separators, misspelled and/or partial words (less typing, same or better security if you do it right), different languages, etc. The number of words also varies (but with too few words other bits of complexity have to be introduced). For me, what is easier or harder to memorize varies depending on what kind of suitable idea I happen to have at a given time. Besides, the variety in password/phrase types buys me a few extra bits of entropy. Even an attacker who has read this comment or cracked a few of my passwords somewhere doesn't come up with one single pattern on password type that I use - because there are many. Thus, let your users choose between short but complicated passwords and longer but less complicated phrases. Similarly, let them choose between server-generated strings and user-chosen ones (the latter may be subject to policy enforcement). Our passwdqc tool set (PAM module, library, program for use from scripts) gives all of these options by default (but they can be disabled in any combination...) For server-generated strings, passwdqc uses 3-word phrase-like ones, with non-whitespace separators (out of a set of 8) and random word capitalization by default - that's 47 bits, which is currently sufficient in most user authentication contexts when used along with bcrypt hashes. With 4 words and the same approach, it's 64 bits ("pwqgen random=64" will do that) - but that is rarely needed with a decent password hash. (It is reasonable for data encryption keys, though - plus some 20 bits of stretching with a decent KDF.)

Comment Re:PBKDF2 (Score 5, Informative) 61

SRP is great, but it does not eliminate the need for better password hashing - rather, these things may/should be used together. It does not take breaking DH to merely probe candidate passwords against a stolen/leaked SRP verifier. The Wikipedia article you referenced says that "using of functions like PBKDF2 instead of H for password hashing is highly recommended", and they were referring to the password stretching aspect. Other properties of the hashing method are also relevant, just like they are to "regular" password hashes.

In fact, I complained to Tom Wu about SRP's use of non-iterated SHA-1 in 2000, and I had an e-mail exchange on a similar topic in SPEKE context with David Jablon in 1998 or so. Since then (or at about that time), the need for heavy to compute underlying hashes even along with zero-knowledge password proofs became widely recognized. I am not really into the latter topic, but I did my little bit to influence that field in that minor aspect (and I'm sure many others did as well).

Comment Re:Inferior products always hit the news. (Score 3, Interesting) 61

I fully expected a comment just like yours. :-) hashcat is in fact superior in many ways, but JtR is superior in many others. In the context of this story, since when does hashcat support sha512crypt and bcrypt on GPU? Last time I checked (just before releasing JtR 1.7.9-jumbo-6), it did not. I've just re-checked - as far as I can see, it still does not. So hashcat could not possibly be used for the comparison that this story is about, at this time.

My guess, based on recent hashcat user polls and atom's comments on the forums (yes, I sometimes skim over the topics), is that atom will in fact add support for sha512crypt on GPU soon (especially now that JtR has it, and hashcat "got to" compete and show a better speed, which it likely will) - in fact, even reusing our code is possible since we've BSD-licensed that portion, but I doubt that atom would do that. I am less certain about bcrypt. BTW, atom's expectation, stated on their forums, was that sha512crypt would be only 2-3 times faster on GPU than it is on CPU. We achieved 5.5x, which is thus not bad. Admittedly, the CPU code could be rewritten to use SIMD and be roughly twice faster - thereby bringing us to the 2-3x expectation.

Also, some of us prefer Open Source, even if in some aspects a given implementation is inferior at a given time. Besides the current preferences/beliefs, guess what happens in case at some point atom loses interest in further hashcat development and does not release the sources under an Open Source license - or if something bad happens (I hope not!) preventing him from being able to do that? So far, hashcat is only ~2.5 years old and it is proprietary. (And yes, I am very impressed by what atom did in just 2 years.) John the Ripper has been around since 1996 and it is Open Source. BTW, this difference also means that hashcat can freely borrow low-level implementation ideas from us if atom wanted to (although I think he's good enough on his own not to use this option), whereas hashcat's EULA (as of the last time I checked, which was a long while ago) prevents us from doing the same even via reverse-engineering if we wanted to (although apparently this is not enforceable in many jurisdictions or in case the person never accepted the EULA; no, we don't rely on that and we don't RE hashcat).

Anyhow, I don't think there would be any issue in having a hashcat-focused news story if you or someone else posts one at a right time. :-)

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 3, Interesting) 61

I am all for passphrases. We've been supporting them in our passwdqc password/passphrase strength checking and policy enforcement tool (initially just a PAM module, then more) since I wrote it in 2000.

Implementation detail: when enforcing passphrase policy, we need to insist on some separators between words being present. passwdqc does, in order for the string to quality as a passphrase rather than password. Apparently, Dropbox does not, and I think that's a flaw. No wordlist can be comprehensive, and a separator-less passphrase is indistinguishable to a password/passphrase strength checker from a long and somewhat obscure dictionary word. Indeed, any passphrase (or a multi-word portion of it) can happen to be found in a dictionary (or on the web, etc.) as well - or just be reused by the user across multiple sites - but that's a somewhat different issue.

Comment Re:useless for strong passwords (Score 5, Interesting) 61

The fact that not every password is likely to be cracked is precisely what makes password security audits with John the Ripper useful. If every password would be getting cracked, there would be fewer legitimate uses for the tool. ;-)

Memorizing one 16-digit mixed-case alphanumeric password is realistic, but it does not help you all that much unless it's a "master password" (e.g., used to access an encrypted password manager database or to generate other passwords from or to access an encrypted filesystem where you store other passwords in plaintext), because you'd have difficulty memorizing a large number of unique and dissimilar passwords of this kind. Either way, if you're developing a server application or administering a server where users can register with passwords (maybe as one of the authentication options, not necessarily the only one), it becomes sort of your responsibility to make your users' passwords less likely to be cracked, even if the server security is temporarily compromised (you should assume that this might happen). Note that many of your users' passwords might be weaker than you would have liked them to be, and you don't want to enforce too strict a password policy (as that's a tradeoff). This is where the choice of hashing method to use matters, letting you use a less strict password policy for the same level of security or/and resulting in fewer passwords getting cracked (even with no enforced policy, since some people will choose medium complexity passwords on their own).

Comment Re:PBKDF2 (Score 5, Interesting) 61

You make a valid point. I do intend to add a mention of PBKDF2 to a revised version of my presentation, and I am likely to use it or at least HMAC as a component if I design a new password hashing method - not so much because of actual need, but mostly to have an easy and convincing answer about cryptographic security. ;-) However, in the context of this announcement PBKDF2 is arguably less relevant, and it is inferior to the alternatives being considered specifically in the GPU-friendliness aspect (it is more GPU-friendly than all three of SHA-crypt, bcrypt, scrypt). In scrypt, PBKDF2 is used (with SHA-256) to provide/demonstrate cryptographic security, but mostly not computational cost, whereas the analysis here is about the latter, under assumption that all of the alternatives being seriously considered are sufficiently secure cryptographically.

This release of John the Ripper supports PBKDF2 on GPU as well - in the included WPA-PSK cracking code. The release announcement shows a 27x speedup over the also-included CPU code when going from FX-8120 CPU (8 threads) to HD 7970 GPU for WPA-PSK cracking (PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA-1), which clearly shows that it is very GPU-friendly. With SHA-512, it'd be a lot less GPU-friendly, but likely not even to the point of sha512crypt.


Submission + - John the Ripper Cracks Slow Hashes On GPU ( 1

solardiz writes: "New community-enhanced version of John the Ripper adds support for GPUs via CUDA and OpenCL, currently focusing on slow to compute hashes and ciphers such as Fedora's and Ubuntu's sha512crypt, OpenBSD's bcrypt, encrypted RAR archives, WiFi WPA-PSK. A 5 times speedup over AMD FX-8120 CPU per-chip is achieved for sha512crypt on NVIDIA GTX 570, whereas bcrypt barely reaches the CPU's speed on AMD Radeon HD 7970 (a high-end GPU). This result reaffirms that bcrypt is a better current choice than sha512crypt (let alone sha256crypt) for operating systems, applications, and websites to move to, unless they already use one of these "slow" hashes and until a newer/future password hashing method such as one based on the sequential memory-hard functions concept is ready to move to.

The same John the Ripper release also happens to add support for cracking of many additional and diverse hash types ranging from IBM RACF's as used on mainframes to Russian GOST and to Drupal 7's as used on popular websites — just to give a few examples — as well as support for Mac OS X keychains, KeePass and Password Safe databases, Office 2007/2010 and ODF documents, Firefox/Thunderbird/SeaMonkey master passwords, more RAR archive kinds, WPA-PSK, VNC and SIP authentication, and it makes greater use of AMD Bulldozer's XOP extensions."

Comment Re:NTLM hasn't been in active use for a while (Score 1) 45

NTMLv2 uses a challenge response system and so you can't offline crack it in the same way.

John the Ripper, in the -jumbo versions (community-enhanced), includes support for cracking of both NTLMv1 and NTLMv2 challenge/responses - see NETNTLM_README in the documentation and NETNTLM_fmt.c and NETNTLMv2_fmt.c in the source tree.

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