Hackers crack more than 60% of breached LinkedIn passwords
Speed of hackers to crack passwords shows weakness of security scheme used by LinkedIn, researchers say
More than 60% of the unique hashed passwords that were accessed by hackers from a LinkedIn password database and posted online this week have already been cracked, according to security firm Sophos.
It's very likely the remaining passwords have also been cracked, said security researcher Chester Wisniewski late Wednesday.
In all, a total of 6.5 million hashed password believed to belong to LinkedIn members was posted on a Russian hacker forum earlier this week. The crooks posted the data in an effort to get help in cracking the passwords.
Sophos said it identified about 5.8 million hashed passwords as unique.
Based on an analysis of the 118MB password dump, Wisniewski said close to 3.5 million of the unique passwords had been cracked and made available in plain text by late last night. It's only a matter of time before the remaining passwords are similarly cracked using automated password guessing tools, he added.
The speed at which so many hashed passwords were cracked underscores the weakness of the passwords protection scheme used by LinkedIn, Wisniewski said.
The breached LinkedIn member passwords were all hashed, or masked, using a hashing protocol known as SHA-1.
Though SHA-1 offers a degree of protection against password cracking attempts, the protocol is by no means foolproof.
Therefore, many organizations theses day use a process known as salting -- where a random string of characters are appended to a password before it is hashed-- to make password cracking much harder. The process ensures that even if two passwords are identical, their hashes will be unique.
Salting is considered something of a best practice for protecting passwords, especially those used by employees of large companies.
That LinkedIn apparently chose to protect passwords using just SHA-1 is disappointing, Wisniewski said. "They chose a moderate security method. For an organization as large as LinkedIn, I would expect better," he said.
The worst policy for companies is to store passwords in clear text, experts say.
Storing them in hashed form with no salting is nearly as bad, considering the availability of SHA-1 hash cracking tools, Wisniewski said. Tables that contain pre-computed hashes for billions of passwords are easily available. Almost anyone can use these tables to decrypt almost any SHA-1 hash and recover it in plain text in in a matter of minutes.
In response to widespread reports about the breach, LinkedIn yesterday admitted that "some" of its passwords might have been compromised. So far, the company has not indicated how the breach occurred or how many passwords may have been compromised.
In a carefully worded blog post LinkedIn director Wednesday Vicente Silveira said that the company had disabled all the compromised passwords and was instructing affected members how to access their accounts to reset their passwords.
- Snowden advocates at SXSW for improved data security
- Joomla receives patches for zero-day SQL injection vulnerability, other flaws
- NSA used 'European bazaar' to spy on EU citizens
- Target CIO resigns following breach
- Evan Schuman: Mobile IT Roach Motel: Data checks in, but it won't check out
- Sears finds no evidence of data breach -- yet
- Gameover malware is tougher to kill with new rootkit component
- Mobile app for RSA Conference exposes personal data
- UK man charged with hacking Federal Reserve
- Bloomberg clamps down with data-access policies after scandal
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Who's Spying on You? You're aware of the threats of malware to your business but what about the ever-changing ground rules? Cybercriminals today are launching attacks against...
- Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready? Read "Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready?" now, and discover best practices and actionable steps to implementing a production-ready big data solution.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers | Webcasts