By Tom Magrino
Nov 17, 2009
The PlayStation 3 has been used for a variety of altruistic tasks
following its launch in 2006. Perhaps the most high-profile of these
ventures is the Folding@home project, which uses spare processing power
from idling, networked PS3s to undertake the arduous task of simulating
protein folding in order to study the causes of various diseases.
The latest effort to harness the PS3's processing power for good comes
from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center. As
reported by Axcess News, the Cyber Crimes Center (C3) is using networked
PS3s to capture sexual predators by cracking passwords on computers
suspected of containing child pornography.
The report notes that while law enforcement agents can execute a warrant
to secure the physical computers, the Fourth Amendment protects
suspected predators from surrendering passwords and other encryption
material. As such, the agency attempts to crack the passwords by using a
program that tries all possible key combinations. The report notes that
a six-digit password has nearly 282 trillion possible permutations, and
the networked PS3 can attempt 4 million guesses per second.
The fight against kiddie porn has a new ally.
"Bad guys are encrypting their stuff now, so we need a methodology of
hacking on that to try to break passwords," said C3 senior special agent
Claude E. Davenport. "The PlayStation 3--its processing component--is
perfect for large-scale library attacks."
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