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(Happy Together) Full Crack [Password]

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(Happy Together) Full Crack [Password]

Netflix is testing a way to crack down on password sharing. The streaming service has been asking some users of the popular streaming site to verify that they live with the holder of the account. Jenny Kane/AP hide caption

Since very few systems have support for one-time tokens (dynamic passwords which are only used once), everyone should be aware of how to select strong passwords. If a malicious user can get hold of or 'crack' your password they can access the system with your identity and with your access rights.

An alphanumeric password contains numbers, letters, and special characters (like an ampersand or hashtag). In theory, alphanumeric passwords are harder to crack than those containing just letters. But they can also be harder to both create and remember.

And remember that hackers can crack even the strongest password. The best way to strengthen your password is to add in another factor, such as something you have in your possession. So-called "two-factor authentication" is much harder for a hacker to manipulate and crack. We've written up a white paper about this practice, and we encourage you to check it out.

A brief note - this article is about the theory of how to crack hashed passwords. Understanding how cybercriminals execute attacks is extremely important for understanding how to secure systems against those types of attacks.

Unfortunately, the hashing functions which are used for hashing passwords aren't always as secure as generally approved hash functions. For example, the hashing function used for old Windows devices is known as LM Hash, which is so weak that it can be cracked in a few seconds.

If a password is insecure (let's say someone uses a password 5 characters long), it can be relatively easily cracked. For example, a password of 5 lowercase characters can only be used to create 11,881,376 different passwords (26^5).

For example if the password you're trying to crack is 8 characters long but uses numbers (10 digits), lowercase letters (26), uppercase letters (26), and some special characters (10), the number of possible passwords jumps to 722,204,136,308,736 - which is A LOT of storage space, when you realize each is hashed with a hashing function like SHA-256.

Rainbow tables address this issue by offering reduced storage needs, but they take more time to compute the potential passwords. At the most basic level, these are essentially pre-computed lookup tables which enable you to quickly find the plaintext which matches the hash you have. If the hash and plaintext are contained in the table you have - similar to dictionary attacks - you're only looking to see if the password is contained in the table you have. If it isn't, you won't be able to crack the password. You can find these online for free or for purchase.

First, a layered defense of all systems. If you can prevent compromise of your systems via other methods (so the attacker can't get a copy of your hashed passwords), the attacker won't be able to crack them.

You can also use salting, which adds a random value to the password before encrypting it. That means that the precomputed value you've found (which matches the hash) won't work. The encrypted text is not based solely on the unencrypted text. Because the salt is different for each password, each needs to be cracked individually.

One other method designed to increase the difficulty of cracking the password is to use a pepper. Pepper is similar to salt, but while a salt is not secret (it's stored with the hashed password), pepper is stored separately (for example, in a configuration file) in order to prevent a hacker from accessing it. This means the pepper is secret, and its effectiveness depends on this.

Use a password manager. These free tools encrypt and store all of your passwords. Then they automatically insert your password when you log in to an account. Some managers even include a random password generator that creates hard-to-crack


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