The power that a Graphics Processing Unit presents can be harnessed to do some dirty work when trying to crack passwords. [Vijay] took a look at some of the options out there for cracking passwords and found that utilizing the GPU produces the correct password in a fraction of the time. On a Windows machine he pitted the Cain password recovery tool which uses the CPU for its calculations against ighashgpu which uses ATI or Nvidia graphics cards to do the deed. Hands down ighashgpu is the fastest; with Cain taking about one year to crack an eight character password while ighashgpu can do it in under nineteen hours.
We were very interested to see how easy it is to use this package. We looked in on GPU cracking in September but didn’t focus on the software packages that are out there. Now that you know how easily your password can be unearthed perhaps you will get some use out of this article discussing the usability and security of longer passwords which we ran across over on Reddit.
Solder connections on processors seem to be a very common failure point in modern electronics. Consider the Red Ring of Death (RRoD) on Xbox 360 or the Yellow Light of Death (YLoD) on PlayStation 3. This time around the problem is a malfunctioning Nvidia GPU on an HP Pavilion TX2000 laptop. The video is sometimes a jumbled mess and other times there’s no video at all. If the hardware is older, and the alternative to fixing it is to throw it away, you should try to reflow the solder connections on the chip.
This method uses a heat gun, which we’ve seen repair PCBs in the past. The goal here is to be much less destructive and that’s why the first step is to test out how well your heat gun will melt the solder. Place a chunk of solder on a penny, hold the heat gun one inch above it and record how long it takes the solder to flow. Once you have the timing right, mask off the motherboard (already removed from the case) so that just the chip in question is accessible. Reflow with the same spacing and timing as you did during the penny test. Hopefully once things cool down you’ll have a working laptop or gaming console again.
Recently, research students at Georgia Tech released a report outlining the dangers that GPUs pose to the current state of password security. There are a number of ways to crack a password, all with their different pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, the limiting factor in all of these methods is processing complexity. The more operations that need to be run, the longer it takes, and the less useful each tool is for cracking passwords. In the past, most recommendations for password security revolved around making sure your password wasn’t something predictable, such as “password” or your birthday. With today’s (and tomorrows) GPUs, this may no longer be enough.
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The Xbox 360 has a brand new motherboard. Dubbed the Jasper, it presumably has a new 65nm process GPU. The new box has a 150W power supply instead of the former’s 175W brick. They’ve changed the plug design to prevent usage with old consoles. The most notable change is the onboard flash memory upgrade. Earlier consoles only had 16MB; new ones have 256MB. The majority of this storage will be used for the new dashboard, the NXE. The remaining space can be used for game saves. With the new storage, Arcade units are no longer including memory cards. You can see more images of the boards on Xbox-Scene.
Boxee, the social XBMC, is now easy to install on your Apple TV. We first covered Boxee in June when the alpha was released. It’s great to see how much the project has advanced to this point. To install on the Apple TV, you first download a USB “patchstick” creator. The program puts a mac partition on the drive and copies over the necessary files. You reboot the Apple TV with the stick installed and it patches in both Boxee and XBMC. When you restart the the device it will have two new menu items and the rest of the system will be intact. [Dave Mathews] shows the entire process in the video above. He notes that they’re currently not taking advantage of the GPU, so 1080p is a little too much for the system.