Ken Thompson’s Unix password #VintageComputing #History #Unix
Leah Neukirchen‘s blog discusses a Unix password file discovered in 2014 containing the encrypted passwords of all the old timers such as Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Brian W. Kernighan, Steve Bourne and Bill Joy. What a treasure! Many were cracked as they were weak…
However, kens password eluded my cracking endeavor. Even an exhaustive search over all lower-case letters and digits took several days (back in 2014) and yielded no result. Since the algorithm was developed by Ken Thompson and Robert Morris, I wondered what’s up there. I also realized, that, compared to other password hashing schemes (such as NTLM), crypt(3) turns out to be quite a bit slower to crack (and perhaps was also less optimized).
From: Nigel Williams <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [TUHS] Recovered /etc/passwd files
ken is done:
took 4+ days on an AMD Radeon Vega64 running hashcat at about 930MH/s
during that time (those familiar know the hash-rate fluctuates and
slows down towards the end).
Apparently, this is a chess move in descriptive notation, and the beginning of many common openings. It fits very well to Ken Thompson’s background in computer chess.
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