Sunday, 17 November, 2019

Stop Using Hijacked Passwords That Google Already Told You Were Bad

Google Says Too Many Stubborn People Are Using Compromised Passwords In Chrome Google Chrome Extension Finds Thousands of Hacked Passwords Still in Use
Emmett Howard | 17 August, 2019, 21:46

'In the first month alone, we scanned 21m usernames and passwords and flagged over 316,000 as unsafe - 1.5pc of sign-ins scanned by the extension'. At 1.5 percent, Google's latest findings are considerably lower, but the company's researchers warn against concluding that things are improving: Instead it suggests that the self-selecting nature of the sample group, made up as it is of people who specifically sought out and manually installed a password-checking extension, is likely to mean a more security-conscious mindset, while the fact the analysis didn't capture dormant or abandoned accounts could drop the figure still further.

"Protecting accounts from credential stuffing attacks remains burdensome due to an asymmetry of knowledge: attackers have wide-scale access to billions of stolen usernames and passwords, while users and identity providers remain in the dark as to which accounts require remediation", wrote Google.

A quarter of users don't change their passwords, even if they are told that the password they're using for an account has been compromised, according to a Google study.

'Instead, they'll use a method called a dictionary attack, where the program will cycle through a predefined list of common words that are used in passwords'. Of these password changes, though, 60% resulted in the user changing to a more secure password than their original one.

Fortunately, Google's extension was able to alert the affected users about the vulnerable passwords.

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Of those users who were notified, only 26% of the warnings resulted in a password change. By alerting users to this breach status, 26% of our warnings resulted in users migrating to a new password. Attackers take thousands or even millions of known username-password sets and try to use each, one after another, to log into widely used online services.

Password spraying hits people who use weak passwords. Dubbed Password Checkup, the extension would monitor credentials for their presence on breach notification services like Have I Been Pwned. They would get to "kitty5555" before too long.

Password spraying has emerged as an effective technique to brute-force or guess passwords, as well as to bypass systems that lock accounts after too many wrong guesses.

The technique involves gathering a huge number of account usernames and hitting logins with a small number of the worst passwords, on the assumption that some percentage of the target group will have used one of them. The lesson here is to make passwords unique as much as possible for all accounts.

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