#1 By: Xeni Jardin, July 25th, 2013 18:28
#2 By: Cowicide, July 25th, 2013 18:53
Such a warm feeling I get at the thought of some quasi-governmental asshole digging through my business plans because my ISP handed the asshole the keys.
#3 By: Bersl, July 25th, 2013 19:05
So, maybe if the passwords are encrypted with a symmetric cipher. What if they're salted hashes?
The United States Government is the APT to end all APTs. If anyone has rainbow tables to salted MD5 and SHA-1, they do. And let's face it, if a site uses a scheme like this to protect their password DBs, they're already ahead of the curve.
Time for PBKDF2 or better. Fuck the spooks.
#4 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, July 25th, 2013 19:07
Even better, people definitely don't reuse passwords across systems all the damn time so this certainly doesn't make a little extracurricular spying on services who have not been ordered to hand over passwords entirely trivial. No sirree bob, not at all.
#5 By: Todd Knarr, July 25th, 2013 19:08
The Feds would have a problem with a system I'd designed, because the passwords aren't encrypted. Nor are they stored. What's stored is a one-way hash of the password using a nasty, nasty method (BCrypt) that's designed to not only be irreversible, it's also infeasible to apply in bulk to defeat off-line dictionary attacks. The system can verify that an entered password matches the one that was set for the account, but it doesn't know what the password you set was. You can't give to anybody what you don't have.
#6 By: technogeek, July 25th, 2013 19:24
Storing only a secure/irreversable hash of the password should be standard practice these days. I'd say that anyone who stores plaintext passwords is running serious liability risk. So I expect that what the gummint actually asked for was the hashed passwords and the formula for the trap door hash the company is using.
Given that, they can afford to throw computation at it to do an exhaustive search for the password. "Infeasable" carries the caveat "within a reasonable budget, and assuming you're looking for a specific password rather than bulk-matching against the entire file" -- and government and reasonable budget are known to not always occur in the same sentence. (Not to mention that the definition of "reasonable" depends on how important it is to you to get the answer.)
Note too that when you've got a hash, they don't have to find the right password -- just one that has the same hash value.Unless the hash has extremely low odds of collision (eg has many more bits than the passwords do and scatters well across that space), that does represent a slight weakening of cryptographic strength in exchange for the huge gain of not having the passwords ever stored as plaintext.
Remember recently published studies (some cited here on BB) showing that even an unsophisticated effort can brute-force a huge percentage of a typical pile of passwords. Sure, a trapdoor cypher which is more expensive to compute does reduce the speed of that result... but that's typically not going to be by much more than an order of magnitude or two, for a given size password.
We need to train people to use longer and less obvious passwords. At least on systems they care about and that might offer progressive attack paths against other systems. That's got better odds of better protection than just running fancier math on a short single-word-or-common-phrase password.
Either that, or people need to learn that anything on line should be presumed to be insecure.
#7 By: Tribune1984, July 25th, 2013 19:50
If Anthony Wiener had waited a few days he could have said the Feds did it. In fact if some of the people that are targeted for surveillance actually end up in a court room I wonder if the feds have just laid the groundwork for reasonable doubt concerning any internet based evidence.
#8 By: Michael Smith, July 25th, 2013 20:11
Even if (say) google hashes passwords before storing them there is no reason why they would not keep a version in plain text to give out on request.
#9 By: Michael Smith, July 25th, 2013 20:14
Hard to believe the feds would invent the code name Carlos Danger and not forsee the shame it would bring them.
#10 By: Marco Antonio Morales, July 25th, 2013 20:21
USA, you are ruining the internet for all of us. Please stop it, or muzzle your hounds.
#11 By: Phasma Felis, July 25th, 2013 20:33
I've been wondering. What happens if, say, Google calls the bluff? What happens if the feds say "give us unrestricted access to your user data or we're shutting you down," and the next day Google replaces every service they offer around the globe with a page that says, "Regretfully, the United States government has forbidden us to continue providing secure service to our valued customers," followed by a list of Congressional phone numbers organized by state.
#12 By: Dan Vallentyne, July 25th, 2013 20:34
I'm normally first in line to criticize expanded surveillance or anything that reduces our privacy, but there doesn't seem to be much content at all to this article.
The article quotes two sources, both anonymous and then lists a long list of the biggest names on the internet who declined to comment or didn't respond at all. The rest of the article is all background info on security and privacy online.
#13 By: Tribune1984, July 25th, 2013 20:41
If they are on the record it is probably illegal for them to reply in a manner that gives information.
#14 By: Phasma Felis, July 25th, 2013 20:46
In librarian circles at least, "nobody's asked for this data" means just that, while "I can neither confirm nor deny that government agents have asked for this data" means "fuck yes they did."
#15 By: El Mariachi, July 25th, 2013 21:09
There is no reason except laziness or incompetence to keep plaintext user passwords. Keeping only hashes has been standard practice for decades.
#16 By: Thetorchpasses, July 25th, 2013 21:20
Trust me, the majority of Americans feel the same way you do.
#17 By: Thetorchpasses, July 25th, 2013 21:21
I see you write in the genre of fantasy. ; )
#18 By: Michael Smith, July 25th, 2013 21:39
Apart from being ordered to by the Government,
#19 By: Bard, July 25th, 2013 22:34
I … I think … I think this could lead somewhere …
#20 By: technogeek, July 25th, 2013 22:38
There's every reason why. They have no need to do so, and by doing do they would make themselves legally liable for any lost data. Sure, they could, technically, but only an idiot would.
This is why password recovery mechanisms generally do NOT send you the old password, but give you another way to authenticate yourself and then send you a new one. They don't know your old password. They don't want to know your old password. All they need or want is to be able to recognize it when you type it in.
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