Brute force finds the lost password for an electronic safe


[Teatree] tells a sad, sad story about the lost password for his fire safe. The electronic keypad comes with a manufacturer’s code as well as a user selected combination. Somehow he managed to lose both of them, despite storing the user manual safely and sending the passwords to himself via email. He didn’t want to destroy the safe to get it open, and turning to the manufacturer for help seemed like a cop-out. But he did manage to recover the password by brute forcing the electronic keypad.

There is built-in brute force protection, but it has one major flaw. The system works by enforcing a two-minute lockout if a password is entered incorrectly three times in a row. But you can get around this by cutting the power. [Teatree] soldered a relay to each set of keypad contacts, and another to the power line and got to work writing some code so that his Arduino could start trying every possible combination. He even coded a system to send him email updates. Just six days of constant attacking netted him the proper password.

Brute forcing a GPS PIN


[JJ] picked up a Garmin Nuvi 780 GPS from an auction recently. One of the more frustrating features [JJ] ran into is it’s PIN code; this GPS can’t be unlocked unless a four-digit code is entered, or it’s taken to a ‘safe location’. Not wanting to let his auction windfall go to waste, [JJ] rigged up an automated brute force cracking robot to unlock this GPS.

The robot is built around an old HP scanner and a DVD drive sled to move the GPS in the X and Y axes. A clever little device made out of an eraser tip and a servo taps out every code from 0000 to 9999 and waits a bit to see if the device unlocks. It takes around 8 seconds for [JJ]’s robot to enter a single code, so entering all 10,000 PINs will take about a day and a half.

Fortunately, the people who enter these codes don’t care too much about the security of their GPS devices. The code used to unlock [JJ]’s GPS was 0248. It only took a couple of hours for the robot to enter the right code; we’d call that time well spent.

You can check out the brute force robot in action after the break.

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Brute force used to crack a key logger’s security code

The USB device seen plugged in on the right of this image was found in between the keyboard and USB port of the company computer belonging to a Senior Executive. [Brad Antoniewicz] was hired by the company to figure out what it is and what kind of damage it may have done. He ended up brute forcing an unlock code to access the device, but not before taking some careful steps along the way.

From the design and placement the hardware was most likely a key logger and after some searching around the Internet [Brad] and his colleagues ordered what they thought was the same model of device. They wanted one to test with before taking on the actual target. The logger doesn’t enumerate when plugged in. Instead it acts as a pass-through, keeping track of the keystrokes but also listening for a three-key unlock code. [Brad] wrote a program for the Teensy microcontroller which would brute force all of the combinations. It’s a good thing he did, because one of the combinations is a device erase code hardwired by the manufacturer. After altering the program to avoid that wipe code he successfully unlocked the malicious device. An explanation of the process is found in the video after the break.

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Brute forcing the password on a terribly insecure hard drive

While at work one day, [Marco] was approached by a colleague holding a portable USB hard drive. This hard drive – a Freecom ToughDrive – has a built-in security system requiring a password every time the drive is mounted. Somewhat predictably, the password on this hard drive had been lost, so [Marco] brute forced the password out of this drive.

The Freecom ToughDrive requires a password whenever the drive is plugged in, but only allows 5 attempts before it needs to be power cycled. Entering the passwords was easy to automate, but there was still the issue of unplugging the drive after five failed attempts. [Marco] called upon his friend [Alex] to build a small USB extension cable with a relay inserted into the 5 V line. An easy enough solution after which the only thing needed was the time to crack the password.

The rig successfully guessed the password after 500 attempts, or after cycling the power 100 times. This number is incredibly low for getting a password via brute force, but then again the owner of the hard drive was somewhat predictable as to what passwords they used.

Brute force a password protected PDF using the BeagleBone

The biggest benefit to using the BeagleBone is it’s 700 MHz ARM processor. If you’re just messing around with basic I/O that power is going unused, but [Nuno Alves] is taking advantage of its power. He built a PDF password cracker based on the $85 development board.

We recently saw how easy it is to perform basic I/O using the BeagleBone. Those techniques are in play here, used to drive a character LCD and sample a button input from the breadboard circuit. [Nuno] even published separate posts for each of these peripheral features.

The password protected PDF file is passed to the device on a thumb drive. Since the BeagleBone is running embedded Linux you don’t need to mess around with figuring out how to read from the device. A click of the button starts the process. Currently the code just uses a brute force attack which can test more than 6000 four-character passwords per second.  This is quite slow for any password more than four or five characters long, but [Nuno] does mention the possibility of running several ARM processors in parallel, or using a dictionary (or rainbow table) to speed things up. Either way it’s an interesting project to try on the hardware. You can see his video demo of the device after the break.

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A chink in the armor of WPA/WPA2 WiFi security

Looks like your WiFi might not be quite as secure as you thought it was. A paper recently published by [Stefan Viehböck] details a security flaw in the supposedly robust WPA/WPA2 WiFi security protocol. It’s not actually that protocol which is the culprit, but an in-built feature called Wi-Fi Protected Setup. This is an additional security protocol that allows you to easily setup network devices like printers without the need to give them the WPA passphrase. [Stephan’s] proof-of-concept allows him to get the WPS pin in 4-10 hours using brute force. Once an attacker has that pin, they can immediately get the WPA passphrase with it. This works even if the passphrase is frequently changed.

Apparently, most WiFi access points not only offer WPS, but have it enabled by default. To further muck up the situation, some hardware settings dashboards offer a disable switch that doesn’t actually do anything!

It looks like [Stephan] wasn’t the only one working on this exploit. [Craig] wrote in to let us know he’s already released software to exploit the hole.

Brute Force BIOS Hacking Using the Arduino

This clever hack uses an Arduino to do a brute force attack on a computer’s BIOS. In theory, this technique could be used for other programs, but it’s use would be limited since there’s no way to account for too many wrong passwords.

The Arduino generates and outputs the possible password emulating a USB keyboard. When this is done, the pixel in the middle of the screen is read. This is done by reading the analog red signal synced up with the corresponding horizontal and vertical pulses. As with any hack, there were some programming issues that had to be overcome (including one that locked up the keyboard emulator), but this was resolved, and the code is available if you wan to build your own.

Hardware for this build is simple, involving a LCD output, a button to stop everything, and a couple diodes to get the USB keyboard working correctly. This hack turned out quite nicely, and the code and schematics are included!