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Security UPDATE--Password Cracking Made Easy--November 16, 2005

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1. In Focus: Password Cracking Made Easy

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- Windows Defender: Coming to a PC Near You

- Westchester County NY Might Make Unsecured Wi-Fi Illegal

- Trojan Cloaked Behind Sony DRM

3. Security Toolkit

- Security Matters Blog


- Security Forum Featured Thread

4. New and Improved

- Security Suite Adds Support for SQL Server 2005


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==== 1. In Focus: Password Cracking Made Easy

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

Many of you probably test the strength of your users' passwords now and then to ensure that people are picking something strong enough to resist attack. Others of you might test password strength as part of your consulting services for various customers. Of course, sometimes you might need to recover a lost password, in which case you need a password cracker.

Several tools that attempt to crack passwords of various types are available, including LCP (at the first URL below) and John the Ripper (at the second URL below). Both these tools can brute-force guess passwords; however, they can take some time, depending on the complexity of the password. Another tool, pwdump2 (at the third URL below), dumps password hashes from within Active Directory (AD) or the Windows SAM database. You'll need pwdump2 or a similar tool to use LCP or John the Ripper.

Another method of cracking passwords is to use rainbow tables, which are sets of possible password hashes and their precomputed plain text equivalents. Having the hashes computed ahead of time saves a lot of time when password cracking because then the cracking software just needs to find the hash of the unknown password in the tables. Once the hash is found, the plain text version of the password is also found. The downsides to this approach are of course the lengthy computation time required to create the tables and the storage requirements for the tables, which can be in the hundreds of gigabytes, depending on a variety of parameters including possible password lengths, character sets, and hash algorithms.

Tools are available to produce rainbow tables. One toolkit, called RainbowCrack, includes tools to generate and sort rainbow tables and a tool to discover an unknown password--assuming of course that you have a copy of the password hash.

If you don't want to generate your own tables, you can buy precomputed tables or use the recently launched RainbowCrack-Online, a subscription service that can crack your passwords for a fee. The fee, which can range from $29.95 per month to $2499 per year, depends on the number of passwords you want to crack and the length of time you want to use the service. As you would guess, the service uses massive rainbow tables to make password discovery relatively quick.

Using the service to test password strength is probably not practical in many cases. However, you could use the service to discover unknown passwords for a variety of systems because the service supports passwords hashed with LAN Manager, NT LAN Manager (NTLM), Message Digest 5 (MD5), Message Digest 4 (MD4), Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA1), Cisco PIX, and MySQL. Check it out at the URL below.


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==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities

If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at

Windows Defender: Coming to a PC Near You

Microsoft's Windows Defender product will soon enter its next beta stage and will eventually move onto computers at large. What, you never heard of Windows Defender? That's because it's the new product name for the current Windows AntiSpyware solution, which is based on technology Microsoft acquired when it purchased GIANT Software. Learn about some new features in this news article on our Web site.

Westchester County NY Might Make Unsecured Wi-Fi Illegal

A newly proposed law in New York state aims to make it illegal to operate unsecured hotspots in an effort to "protect the public from crimes such as identity theft and other consumer fraud." The law, proposed by Westchester County Executive Andy Spano, would require businesses that operate hotspots to take at least some basic security precautions to protect information as it travels over their networks.

Trojan Cloaked Behind Sony DRM

Sony's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology caused an uproar due to its ability to hide itself as well as its difficult removal process. Now at least one Trojan horse program is using Sony's DRM cloaking technology to hide on people's systems.


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Free Tools to Stop Internet Attacks

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==== 3. Security Toolkit ====

Security Matters Blog: Clean Up or Get Cleaned Out

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

Those lacking adequate security-related defenses sometimes learn lessons the hard way and at a hefty price. A simple antivirus program (which anybody can get for free these days) could have prevented a nightmare scenario in which a couple's life savings was pilfered from their E*TRADE account. Read all about it in this blog entry on our Web site.


by John Savill,

Q: How can I check the password of the IUSR and IWAM local accounts on a machine?

Find the answer at

Security Forum Featured Thread: HKEY_CURRENT_USER Write Issue

A forum participant uses a logon script to write proxy parameters to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry subkey for each user. He has some users that travel between offices and the logon script can't write the subkey values to the registry for those users the way it does for everyone else in the company. To learn more details about the problem and propose a solution, go to:


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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Security Suite Adds Support for SQL Server 2005 Lumigent Technologies announced that its Information Security Management (ISM) Suite has new features that support Microsoft SQL Server 2005. The new features are in ISM Suite's Lumigent Vulnerability Manager DB 3.0 component. Lumigent Vulnerability Manager DB 3.0 helps organizations identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they're exploited. ISM Suite's other component, Lumigent Audit DB 3.0, continuously monitors and audits changes to data and database environments. For more information, go to

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