Russian firm uses GeForce 8800 to crack passwords

Nvidia’s been making a big deal about its GeForce 8-series graphics processors’ general-purpose computing capabilities, saying the cards can be used to speed up a host of tasks like seismic simulations, molecular dynamics, and weather simulations, just to name a few. The company even released cards specifically aimed at general-purpose GPU applications earlier this year. However, GPGPU power can be used for more nefarious tasks than Nvidia advertises.

As the New Scientist reports, Russian software firm Elcomsoft has filed a U.S. patent for a password cracking technique that relies on the parallel processing capabilities of modern graphics processors. According to Elcomsoft CEO Vladimir Katalov, the technique increases the speed of password cracking by a factor of 25 using a GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics card from Nvidia. Elcomsoft also claims a more affordable $150 graphics processor can reduce the time needed to crack a Windows Vista password from months to "just three to five days." Cracking times can even be reduced from days or hours to minutes in some instances.

Elcomsoft used Nvidia’s CUDA programming framework to develop its tool, and development time was only three months. The New Scientist says the firm "plans to introduce the feature into some of its password cracking products over time."

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    • fyo
    • 13 years ago

    This is a completely BS patent – we’ll run the usual software on a new platform??? – and it will be interesting to see how far the USPTO has come.

      • stdPikachu
      • 13 years ago

      Completely agree. How much innovation is involved in saying “Let’s re-write our existing software to run on a different instruction set”? Sure, there’s almost certainly lots of clever coding tricks going on inside the app which might be patentable if you believe in that sort of thing, but as far as I’m concerned the concept of “Doing something well establlished but using X instead of Y” does not constitute innovation, much like the ridiculousness patents on things like “buying $products… but on the internet! OMFGBBQ I’m going to be a millionaire!”.

      Sigh. Look how far we’ve come.

    • evermore
    • 13 years ago

    A pencil can also be used for “nefarious” purposes in the wrong hands.

    This is one of those patents that most people think shouldn’t be patentable, but probably is perfectly OK based on what things have been patented in the past. They aren’t patenting the general idea of cracking passwords using GPU power it sounds like (that has plenty of prior art and is pretty obvious given that Nvidia and ATI specifically have been providing ways to make it easier), and it’s common to patent specific techniques for performing functions.

    One thing I don’t understand though is companies that aren’t based in the US filing US patents. Shouldn’t they be covered if they file a Russian patent? (They did get into the WTO didn’t they?)

      • DancingWind
      • 13 years ago

      ๐Ÿ˜€ no they didn’t ๐Ÿ˜€ because Poland and the rest of Baltic states have issues with the way russians do buissness with us.
      on the US patent topic ๐Ÿ˜€ Probably because [patents in Russia don’t mean a #$%&.

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    It sounds like no one here does this stuff for a living because I live and die by ElcomSoft’s products. People haphazardly lock Office files and PSTs and Elcomsoft’s software works like a charm. The services and products they offer are not just legitimate, but essential.

    • Captain Ned
    • 13 years ago

    Cracking NT & XP passwords is trivial assuming access to the physical machine, no whole-disk encryption, and a copy of chntpw.

    • 1970BossMsutang
    • 13 years ago

    Someone please tell me why Stanford won’t allow nvidia’s based video cards to do folding if they are so powerful?!

      • Flying Fox
      • 13 years ago

      The 7-series GPU were not good enough in terms of features. The 8-series should be ok and they are working on it (plus for the R(V)6xx ones too). I think they were posting for help in that regard too.

    • Cuhulin
    • 13 years ago

    I think there is a good public policy basis for denying this product and company a patent. Hopefully, the PTO will agree.

    • shank15217
    • 13 years ago

    bullshit patent, i hope it gets denied or it will set a precident for all processor intensive algorithm transfers to gpu to be patented, it will set back gpgpu development by years.

    • Reldey
    • 13 years ago

    If you have enough money for a $500 plus vid card, wouldnt you have the money to buy vista? doesnt make much sense to me.

      • Nitrodist
      • 13 years ago

      It’s to get the password to a user’s account, not the product key ๐Ÿ˜›

    • sluggo
    • 13 years ago

    The products they sell include password “recovery” software. Mmmmmmmkay. I suppose if there a password I need and I need it really quickly, then a GPU might not be a completely ridiculous solution. But gee, what should I do with this software and hardware after I’m done with it? Hmmm, I’m sure there’s /[

    • lyc
    • 13 years ago

    in many countries adobe’s drm violates free use mandates, so i doubt they’d like to dip their toes into foreign legal waters regarding users having to buy 3rd party software in order to gain what should be theirs to begin with…

    • ReAp3r-G
    • 13 years ago

    let’s just hope that the above mentioned is used for good rather than evil

    i know i know…that’s just a cue for something bad is gonna happen…soon we’re all gonna hear someone owning one of those monster cards has cracked passwords…

    wonder what kind of software they’d wanna develop out of that…

      • lyc
      • 13 years ago

      the irony is that the fbi a major elcomsoft customer!

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