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Password-Cracking Tools and Network Vulnerability

Introduction

Ensuring the security of data stored in organizational networks is of high importance due to the need to eliminate the threat of cyberattacks and the risks of data leakage. However, in the modern digital sphere, various tools and technologies are constantly emerging, which have the ability to break internal security algorithms, thereby creating opportunities for cybercriminals to steal information without hindrance. One of such technologies is password cracking, and to combat it, taking appropriate security measures is imperative. This report aims to present to the CIO and board members the vulnerability of the organizational network, compare two password cracking tools, explain how strong passwords are created, and discuss the specifics of penetration testing.

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Detection of Password-Cracking Tools as Malware

While trying to gain access to other people’s data via the Internet, cybercriminals use special password-cracking tools. According to Hamang (2019), this technology is a method “when somebody tries to guess or brute-force the search for passwords” (p. 30). The procedure aims to find the necessary keys to steal valuable data. At the same time, in all corporate networks, anti-virus software is installed, which helps prevent the penetration of threats from the outside and protects the information stored in the system. One of the features of the hacking procedure is that the available anti-virus software recognizes password-cracking tools as malware. Virus programs infiltrate the system and allow hackers to crack the existing security keys. In case of inactivity, valuable data can be uploaded and stolen.

Detecting password-cracking tools as malware is an integral part of providing comprehensive data protection and directly impacts the effectiveness of password strength testing. Through the use of effective detection tools, the organization can secure its information base and identify threats from attacks timely. If inactive, as Hamang (2019) notes, password-cracking programs infiltrating under the guise of malware can cause serious financial and reputational damages. As a result, comprehensive protection and fast response to attacks are imperative for keeping corporate data safe.

Password-Cracking Tools

To give examples of popular password-cracking tools, one can pay attention to two common programs called Cain & Abel and Ophcrack. The latter can be utilized on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Linux, while the former is only suitable for Windows (Roy, 2018). At the same time, Cain & Abel may be considered a more user-friendly program as it targets only password-cracking algorithms, while Ophcrack functions with a variety of functions (Roy, 2018). According to Jancis (2021), it takes approximately six seconds for Ophcrack to crack an eight-digit password. Cain & Abel operates a little slower, but its interface is more user-friendly (Jancis, 2021). Accordingly, when applying these tools in the organization, the IT department should take into account the speed of the operation of Ophcrack as a program with an advanced method of identifying cyber threats.

Both tools under consideration operate on a rainbow-table-based principle and work by applying network packet capture methods, brute force, and other cryptanalysis methods. The advantages of utilizing such programs are the ability to identify relevant threats timely and ensure the protection of corporate data (Jancis, 2021). At the same time, there are some potential risks, for instance, the misinterpretation of the obtained data due to the incompetent use of such tools. Neither program guesses passwords for more than a few seconds, and this fact is one of the main advantages to take into account and create an advanced algorithm for securing corporate data.

Password Strength

The strength of passwords is a crucial characteristic that testifies to the comprehensive protection of digital data. As He et al. (2020) argue, there are different assessment methods that make it possible to evaluate the strength of a password and draw conclusions regarding the reliability of the entire security system. The creation of strong security keys is a process in which the specifics of a particular user interface should be taken into account. In other words, a strong password needs to be generated with an emphasis on user characteristics, including operational, demographic, and other factors. This is essential for the organization to consider the features of the personnel who have access to digital content to ensure the reliability of the stored data.

There are special rules for creating strong passwords, which are crucial to observe. He et al. (2020) mention four main types of character sets used to generate keys – lowercase and uppercase letters, digits, and special characters. Moreover, one should remember that the optimal password is to be at least eight characters, including all of the aforementioned ones. This is unacceptable to utilize the keys consisting of simple combinations, for instance, a sequential set of numbers or letters. The frequency of password changes is an important security component. The more often the keys are changed, the lower are the risks of data leakage, and all the passwords should be changed at least once a month. These principles are essential to ensure the security of data on the organization’s corporate network.

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Penetration Testing

Ensuring the security of digital data may be carried out not only by creating a strong password system but also due to a procedure called penetration testing. According to Chen et al. (2018), this algorithm is a defensive mechanism that “employs offensive attack techniques to discover vulnerabilities” (p. 82). The procedure makes it possible to identify malware timely through the in-depth analysis of security protocols and intelligent assessment of the network infrastructure. By utilizing this technology in the organization, the team can simulate a potential attacker’s actions to evaluate the possibility of unauthorized access to the corporate information system and demonstrate network vulnerabilities.

On multiple systems, using the same usernames and passwords can have different implications. From a convenience perspective, this approach helps avoid losing keys. In addition, the same login data contribute to quick access. However, this practice has some disadvantages to take into account. For instance, being subjected to a cyberattack, data from different systems can be stolen due to identical usernames and passwords. Moreover, the recovery time of the necessary information is significantly increased if the key is accidentally lost. Therefore, to avoid data leakage threats, frequent password changes and different encryption keys on multiple systems are the important components of cybersecurity.

Conclusion

The analysis of password-cracking tools with a focus on specific instruments is a valuable practice that can help the organization keep its corporate data safe from leakages. Timely malware detection is essential to safeguard digital information, and effective password management is imperative. Special principles for generating security keys help avoid potential threats. Penetration testing, as an advanced security procedure, is a valuable approach to simulating cybercriminals’ potential actions and identifying network vulnerabilities timely.

References

Chen, C. K., Zhang, Z. K., Lee, S. H., & Shieh, S. (2018). Penetration testing in the IoT age. Computer, 51(4), 82-85. Web.

Hamang, N. M. (2019). Effective password cracking [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Oslo.

He, D., Zhou, B., Yang, X., Chan, S., Cheng, Y., & Guiana, N. (2020). Group password strength meter based on attention mechanism. IEEE Network, 34(4), 196-202. Web.

Jancis, M. (2021). Most popular password cracking techniques: Learn how to protect your privacy. CyberNews. Web.

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Roy, D. What are the best password cracking tools? (Updated for 2018). Grey Campus. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 14). Password-Cracking Tools and Network Vulnerability. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/password-cracking-tools-and-network-vulnerability/

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Password-Cracking Tools and Network Vulnerability'. 14 January.

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