Entries Tagged "passwords"

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Using Hacked LastPass Keys to Steal Cryptocurrency

Remember last November, when hackers broke into the network for LastPass—a password database—and stole password vaults with both encrypted and plaintext data for over 25 million users?

Well, they’re now using that data break into crypto wallets and drain them: $35 million and counting, all going into a single wallet.

That’s a really profitable hack. (It’s also bad opsec. The hackers need to move and launder all that money quickly.)

Look, I know that online password databases are more convenient. But they’re also risky. This is why my Password Safe is local only. (I know this sounds like a commercial, but Password Safe is not a commercial product.)

Posted on September 18, 2023 at 7:02 AMView Comments

Practice Your Security Prompting Skills

Gandalf is an interactive LLM game where the goal is to get the chatbot to reveal its password. There are eight levels of difficulty, as the chatbot gets increasingly restrictive instructions as to how it will answer. It’s a great teaching tool.

I am stuck on Level 7.

Feel free to give hints and discuss strategy in the comments below. I probably won’t look at them until I’ve cracked the last level.

Posted on July 19, 2023 at 1:03 PMView Comments

Dumb Password Rules

Examples of dumb password rules.

There are some pretty bad disasters out there.

My worst experiences are with sites that have artificial complexity requirements that cause my personal password-generation systems to fail. Some of the systems on the list are even worse: when they fail they don’t tell you why, so you just have to guess until you get it right.

Posted on March 2, 2023 at 7:05 AMView Comments

Passwords Are Terrible (Surprising No One)

This is the result of a security audit:

More than a fifth of the passwords protecting network accounts at the US Department of the Interior—including Password1234, Password1234!, and ChangeItN0w!—were weak enough to be cracked using standard methods, a recently published security audit of the agency found.


The results weren’t encouraging. In all, the auditors cracked 18,174—or 21 percent—­of the 85,944 cryptographic hashes they tested; 288 of the affected accounts had elevated privileges, and 362 of them belonged to senior government employees. In the first 90 minutes of testing, auditors cracked the hashes for 16 percent of the department’s user accounts.

The audit uncovered another security weakness—the failure to consistently implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). The failure extended to 25—­or 89 percent—­of 28 high-value assets (HVAs), which, when breached, have the potential to severely impact agency operations.

Original story:

To make their point, the watchdog spent less than $15,000 on building a password-cracking rig—a setup of a high-performance computer or several chained together ­- with the computing power designed to take on complex mathematical tasks, like recovering hashed passwords. Within the first 90 minutes, the watchdog was able to recover nearly 14,000 employee passwords, or about 16% of all department accounts, including passwords like ‘Polar_bear65’ and ‘Nationalparks2014!’.

Posted on February 1, 2023 at 7:08 AMView Comments

LastPass Breach

Last August, LastPass reported a security breach, saying that no customer information—or passwords—were compromised. Turns out the full story is worse:

While no customer data was accessed during the August 2022 incident, some source code and technical information were stolen from our development environment and used to target another employee, obtaining credentials and keys which were used to access and decrypt some storage volumes within the cloud-based storage service.


To date, we have determined that once the cloud storage access key and dual storage container decryption keys were obtained, the threat actor copied information from backup that contained basic customer account information and related metadata including company names, end-user names, billing addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and the IP addresses from which customers were accessing the LastPass service.

The threat actor was also able to copy a backup of customer vault data from the encrypted storage container which is stored in a proprietary binary format that contains both unencrypted data, such as website URLs, as well as fully-encrypted sensitive fields such as website usernames and passwords, secure notes, and form-filled data.

That’s bad. It’s not an epic disaster, though.

These encrypted fields remain secured with 256-bit AES encryption and can only be decrypted with a unique encryption key derived from each user’s master password using our Zero Knowledge architecture. As a reminder, the master password is never known to LastPass and is not stored or maintained by LastPass.

So, according to the company, if you chose a strong master password—here’s my advice on how to do it—your passwords are safe. That is, you are secure as long as your password is resilient to a brute-force attack. (That they lost customer data is another story….)

Fair enough, as far as it goes. My guess is that many LastPass users do not have strong master passwords, even though the compromise of your encrypted password file should be part of your threat model. But, even so, note this unverified tweet:

I think the situation at @LastPass may be worse than they are letting on. On Sunday the 18th, four of my wallets were compromised. The losses are not significant. Their seeds were kept, encrypted, in my lastpass vault, behind a 16 character password using all character types.

If that’s true, it means that LastPass has some backdoor—possibly unintentional—into the password databases that the hackers are accessing. (Or that @Cryptopathic’s “16 character password using all character types” is something like “P@ssw0rdP@ssw0rd.”)

My guess is that we’ll learn more during the coming days. But this should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who is using the cloud: the cloud is another name for “someone else’s computer,” and you need to understand how much or how little you trust that computer.

If you’re changing password managers, look at my own Password Safe. Its main downside is that you can’t synch between devices, but that’s because I don’t use the cloud for anything.

News articles. Slashdot thread.

EDITED TO ADD: People choose lousy master passwords.

Posted on December 26, 2022 at 7:06 AMView Comments

Failures in Twitter’s Two-Factor Authentication System

Twitter is having intermittent problems with its two-factor authentication system:

Not all users are having problems receiving SMS authentication codes, and those who rely on an authenticator app or physical authentication token to secure their Twitter account may not have reason to test the mechanism. But users have been self-reporting issues on Twitter since the weekend, and WIRED confirmed that on at least some accounts, authentication texts are hours delayed or not coming at all. The meltdown comes less than two weeks after Twitter laid off about half of its workers, roughly 3,700 people. Since then, engineers, operations specialists, IT staff, and security teams have been stretched thin attempting to adapt Twitter’s offerings and build new features per new owner Elon Musk’s agenda.

On top of that, it seems that the system has a new vulnerability:

A researcher contacted Information Security Media Group on condition of anonymity to reveal that texting “STOP” to the Twitter verification service results in the service turning off SMS two-factor authentication.

“Your phone has been removed and SMS 2FA has been disabled from all accounts,” is the automated response.

The vulnerability, which ISMG verified, allows a hacker to spoof the registered phone number to disable two-factor authentication. That potentially exposes accounts to a password reset attack or account takeover through password stuffing.

This is not a good sign.

Posted on November 17, 2022 at 5:53 AMView Comments

Recovering Passwords by Measuring Residual Heat

Researchers have used thermal cameras and ML guessing techniques to recover passwords from measuring the residual heat left by fingers on keyboards. From the abstract:

We detail the implementation of ThermoSecure and make a dataset of 1,500 thermal images of keyboards with heat traces resulting from input publicly available. Our first study shows that ThermoSecure successfully attacks 6-symbol, 8-symbol, 12-symbol, and 16-symbol passwords with an average accuracy of 92%, 80%, 71%, and 55% respectively, and even higher accuracy when thermal images are taken within 30 seconds. We found that typing behavior significantly impacts vulnerability to thermal attacks, where hunt-and-peck typists are more vulnerable than fast typists (92% vs 83% thermal attack success if performed within 30 seconds). The second study showed that the keycaps material has a statistically significant effect on the effectiveness of thermal attacks: ABS keycaps retain the thermal trace of users presses for a longer period of time, making them more vulnerable to thermal attacks, with a 52% average attack accuracy compared to 14% for keyboards with PBT keycaps.

“ABS” is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which some keys are made of. Others are made of Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT). PBT keys are less vulnerable.

But, honestly, if someone can train a camera at your keyboard, you have bigger problems.

News article.

Posted on October 12, 2022 at 6:30 AMView Comments

Leaking Passwords through the Spellchecker

Sometimes browser spellcheckers leak passwords:

When using major web browsers like Chrome and Edge, your form data is transmitted to Google and Microsoft, respectively, should enhanced spellcheck features be enabled.

Depending on the website you visit, the form data may itself include PII­—including but not limited to Social Security Numbers (SSNs)/Social Insurance Numbers (SINs), name, address, email, date of birth (DOB), contact information, bank and payment information, and so on.

The solution is to only use the spellchecker options that keep the data on your computer—and don’t send it into the cloud.

Posted on September 26, 2022 at 6:08 AMView Comments

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.