Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Power of PlayStation

I was fascinated to read about a New Zealand Security guy called Nick Breeze, who conducted brute force password cracking experiments using the processor at the heart of the Sony PlayStation 3. He stated he was able to brute force 8 character passwords using the PS3 processor and a password cracking application in just hours; usually it would take days on a regular desktop PC. This type of password cracking typically defeats the type of protection you find on a password protected Zip file (*cough H-M-R-C missing CD cough*).

The PS3 multi-core processor, called the “Cell Processor”, was developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM a couple of years back. The Sony version of the processor can calculate 256 billion calculations per second, which is faster than 4GHz PC. It manages this speed due to having 7 cores within the processor, so can carry out 7 calculations at the same time, so trying 7 brute force passwords at the same time.

Imagine the type of processing power than could be gained by installing a Linux OS and networking PS3s together and combining the processing power, as done with the old PS2, you could be talking a low budget super computer. Such possessing power could have all sorts of positive actions to just password cracking, such as with research projects like the human genome. I must have a search on the net, to see if anyone else is using their PS3 to do things other than playing games.


Anonymous said...

Old news.


Dave Whitelegg CISSP said...

The PS3 processing power is old news, but it's the first I have heard of someone actually testing and using a PS3 to crack passwords.

Godfrey said...

I agree with you Dave, it's not the old news at all, I see your point, I think if faster password cracking is becoming more affordable, we need to stay a ahead and use longer passwords or encryptions keys.