GPUs: Good for Gaming AND Cracking Passwords

Paul Lilly

Don't expect Nvidia, AMD, or any other graphics card maker to start touting this as a marketing bullet, but apparently GPUs are pretty good at decoding passwords with fewer than 12 characters, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology claim.

"We've been using a commonly available graphics processor 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. "Right now we can confidently say that a seven-character password is hopelessly inadequate."

According to Boyd, the release of Nvidia's C-based software development kit really opened a door for would-be hackers to code effective brute-force attacks, especially as today's videocards are capable of so much processing power. The solution, of course, is to pick longer passwords at least 12 characters in length with a mix of letters, numbers, or symbols.

"Length is a major factor in protecting against 'brute forcing' a password," said Joshua Davis, one of the researchers involved in the project. "A computer keyboard contains 95 characters, and every time you add another character, your protection goes up exponentially by 95 times."

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