GPGPU software lets hackers break into Wi-Fi networks

— 1:38 PM on October 13, 2008

You've heard the pitch by now: general-purpose computing on GPUs is the future, and both AMD and Nvidia graphics processors can deliver massive performance increases in tasks like scientific computing and video encoding. Nvidia in particular prides itself in the number of developers that have adopted its CUDA GPGPU programming interface.

Unfortunately, not everybody wants to use GPU power to cure cancer or encode HD video in real time. As HotHardware reports, a Russian company has tapped CUDA to write a "password recovery" tool. Elcomsoft's Distributed Password Recovery costs $599, and it can reportedly crack passwords for WPA- and WPA2-encrypted Wi-Fi networks, operating systems, Microsoft Office applications, PDF files, and both ZIP and RAR archives.

The Wi-Fi cracking in particular seems ominous. As HotHardware points out, Elcomsoft's application should run on a simple notebook with a GeForce 8-series or better graphics processor, and it can "crack WPA encryption over 100 times fastest [sic] than with a standard CPU." We haven't tested this thing ourselves, so we can't confirm whether it actually works (or works well), but it could nonetheless cause headaches for companies with internal Wi-Fi networks.

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