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The Truth About PassGAN: The AI Password Cracker that's Mostly Hype


Password Cracker AI: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself




Passwords are the keys to our digital lives. They protect our personal and financial information, our online accounts, and our devices. But how secure are they? Can they withstand the attacks of hackers and cybercriminals who use sophisticated tools and techniques to crack them?


In this article, we will explore one of the most advanced and dangerous tools that hackers can use to crack passwords: password cracker AI. We will explain what it is, how it works, and why it is a threat. We will also provide some tips on how to create strong passwords and prevent password breaches.




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Introduction




Passwords are one of the most common and widely used methods of authentication on the internet. They are supposed to be secret and unique, so that only the authorized user can access the account or service. However, passwords are also vulnerable to various types of attacks, such as:


  • Brute force attacks: trying every possible combination of characters until the correct one is found.



  • Dictionary attacks: trying common words or phrases that are likely to be used as passwords.



  • Guessing attacks: trying personal information or other clues that are related to the user or the account.



  • Rainbow table attacks: using pre-computed tables of hashed passwords and their corresponding plaintext values.



These attacks can be performed by hackers who have access to a database of hashed passwords that was leaked or stolen from a website or service. Hashing is a process that transforms a plaintext password into a fixed-length string of characters that is supposed to be irreversible. However, hackers can use various tools and techniques to reverse the hashing process and recover the original password.


What is password cracker AI?




Password cracker AI is a tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate and guess passwords. It is based on a type of machine learning algorithm called generative adversarial network (GAN), which consists of two competing neural networks: a generator and a discriminator. The generator tries to create realistic outputs (such as images, texts, or passwords) based on a given input (such as a dataset, a topic, or a keyword). The discriminator tries to distinguish between real and fake outputs. The two networks learn from each other and improve their performance over time.


Password cracker AI can be trained on real-world passwords that were obtained from previous data breaches. It can then generate new passwords that mimic the distribution and patterns of the real passwords. These generated passwords can be used to crack hashed passwords in offline attacks.


How does it work?




One example of password cracker AI is PassGAN, which was developed by researchers from Stevens Institute of Technology and New York University in 2017. PassGAN works as follows:


  • The researchers feed PassGAN with a dataset of real-world passwords that were leaked from the RockYou website in 2009. This dataset contains about 32 million plaintext passwords.



  • PassGAN learns the distribution and characteristics of the real passwords, such as their length, complexity, and frequency.



  • PassGAN generates new passwords that resemble the real ones, but are not identical to them. These passwords are called synthetic passwords.



  • The researchers use another tool called Hashcat to hash the synthetic passwords and compare them with a target set of hashed passwords that were obtained from another data breach.



  • If Hashcat finds a match between a synthetic password and a target password, it means that PassGAN has successfully cracked the target password.



The researchers claim that PassGAN can crack up to 27% more passwords than traditional methods, such as brute force, dictionary, or rule Why is it a threat?




Password cracker AI is a threat because it can bypass the traditional defenses that are used to protect passwords, such as:


  • Salting: adding a random string of characters to a password before hashing it, to make it harder to reverse the hash.



  • Peppering: adding a secret value to a password before hashing it, to make it harder to crack the hash.



  • Key stretching: applying a hashing function multiple times to a password, to increase the time and resources needed to crack the hash.



Password cracker AI can overcome these defenses by generating passwords that are more likely to match the target passwords, rather than trying random or common passwords. It can also adapt to different types of passwords, such as alphanumeric, numeric, or special characters. It can also generate passwords that are specific to certain domains, such as email, social media, or banking.


Password cracker AI can also pose a threat to online attacks, such as phishing or social engineering. It can create realistic and convincing passwords that can trick users into revealing their credentials or clicking on malicious links. It can also impersonate users by generating passwords that match their online profiles or behaviors.


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How to create strong passwords




The best way to protect yourself from password cracker AI is to create strong passwords that are hard to guess or generate. Here are some tips on how to create strong passwords:


Use a password manager




A password manager is a software application that stores and manages your passwords in a secure and encrypted way. It can also generate random and complex passwords for you, and autofill them when you log in to your accounts. Some examples of password managers are LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password.


A password manager can help you avoid using the same or weak passwords for different accounts, which can increase your risk of being hacked. It can also help you remember your passwords without writing them down or storing them in plain text.


Use a password generator




A password generator is a tool that creates random and complex passwords for you, based on certain criteria, such as length, character set, and symbols. You can use a password generator to create strong passwords for your accounts or services that do not support password managers. Some examples of password generators are Strong Password Generator, Secure Password Generator, and Random Password Generator.


A password generator can help you create passwords that are hard to crack or guess by password cracker AI or other tools. However, you should make sure that the password generator you use is trustworthy and does not store or share your passwords with anyone. Use a password strength tester




A password strength tester is a tool that evaluates the security and complexity of your passwords, based on certain metrics, such as entropy, length, character diversity, and commonness. It can also provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve your passwords. Some examples of password strength testers are Password Meter, How Secure Is My Password, and The Password Strength Test.


A password strength tester can help you check if your passwords are strong enough to resist password cracker AI or other attacks. However, you should be careful not to enter your real passwords into any online tool, as they may be compromised or stolen by hackers.


Avoid common password pitfalls




Some common password pitfalls that you should avoid are:


  • Using personal information, such as your name, date of birth, address, phone number, or pet's name.



  • Using words or phrases that are related to the account or service, such as "facebook", "gmail", or "bank".



  • Using simple patterns or sequences, such as "123456", "qwerty", or "abcdef".



  • Using common substitutions or variations, such as "p@ssw0rd", "l33tsp34k", or "h4ck3r".



  • Reusing the same password for multiple accounts or services.



These password pitfalls can make your passwords easy to guess or generate


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