The Lazy Genius

Security News & Brain Dumps from Xavier Ashe, a Bit9 Client Partner

NSA@home

Posted by Xavier Ashe on September 4, 2007

NSA@home is a fast FPGA-based SHA-1 and MD5 bruteforce cracker. It is capable
of searching the full 8-character keyspace (from a 64-character set) in about a day in
the current configuration for 800 hashes concurrently.

The cracker is built out of surplus Grass Valley
HD video transform boards, scrapped by GV because of defects.
A useful tool was developed to assist the board reverse-engineering effort.

The chip design consists of a pattern generator, a hash algorithm
and a lookup engine in each FPGA. The FPGAs are connected to smaller “switch FPGAs”, which
distribute data to and gather results from them. Those switches link to each other and
ultimately to an USB port (which had to be added).

A dedicated PC box communicates with the boards through an USB hub. The
software running on it post-processes hit indications from the FPGA
boards and prepares inputs for them.

A web interface to the cracker will be available and will accept a small
number of submissions after the system is fully on-line.

Read more at http://nsa.unaligned.org.

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