Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards

Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards
Passwords Quickly Hacked With PC Graphics Cards 

By Mathew J. Schwartz
August 16, 2010

Passwords with fewer than 12 characters can be quickly brute-force 
decoded using a PC graphics processing unit (GPU) that costs just a few 
hundred dollars, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of 

"We've been using a commonly available graphics processor to test the 
integrity of typical passwords of the kind in use here at Georgia Tech 
and many other places," said Richard Boyd, a senior research scientist 
at the university's research institute, in a statement. "Right now we 
can confidently say that a seven-character password is hopelessly 

Today's top graphics processors offer about two teraflops of parallel 
processing power. For comparison, "in the year 2000, the world's fastest 
supercomputer, a cluster of linked machines costing $110 million, 
operated at slightly more than 7 teraflops," he said.

The barrier to using multi-core graphics processors -- available from 
Nvidia or AMD's ATI division -- for compute-intensive processes other 
than graphics processing, said Boyd, first fell in 2007, when Nvidia 
released a C-based software development kit. "Once Nvidia did that, 
interest in GPUs really started taking off," he said. "If you can write 
a C program, you can program a GPU now." Or use it to crack a password.


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