Home » Artificial Intelligence » Can AI Crack Your Password in Seconds?

Can AI Crack Your Password in Seconds?



| Updated on:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven to have many impressive qualities, from generating code and writing essays to explaining difficult concepts. However, there is significant concern about AI’s ability to crack passwords.

Recent studies by online security researchers reveal that over 50% of commonly used passwords can be cracked in less than a minute with the help of AI tools. As such technologies become better and stronger, it becomes really important to keep our online accounts secure. Find out how you can keep your personal information safe from AI password cracking!

AI’s Growing Prowess in Password Cracking

AI has transformed various aspects of technology, and password cracking is no exception. Now with the help of these AI-powered techniques, cracking passwords have become much easier than ever.

In the past, password-cracking methods involved dictionary attacks, brute-force attacks, rule-based attacks, and rainbow table attacks. While these methods could produce results, they were limited by predictable passwords and required a considerable amount of time and computing power. But, with the progress AI has made in recent times, password cracking has entered a new era.

One area where AI has shown its prowess is in its ability to analyze large datasets. With natural language processing (NLP), AI algorithms can now identify common words, phrases, and patterns frequently used in passwords in a matter of seconds.

Deep learning techniques, particularly generative adversarial networks (GANs), have also contributed to the AI-driven transformation of password cracking. GANs use two competing neural networks – the generator and the discriminator.

The generator produces fake password guesses that closely resemble real passwords, while the discriminator learns to differentiate between fake and real passwords. This allows AI-powered systems to generate more relevant and realistic password guesses in a short period, making them more sophisticated than traditional methods.

Thanks to these advancements, AI-based tools like PassGAN and PCFG Cracker are now cracking passwords effectively. These tools use AI algorithms, such as GANs and probabilistic context-free grammars (PCFGs) to effectively crack passwords. For instance, PassGAN can crack a seven-character password in under 6 minutes, regardless of the complexity.

How Character Length and Complexity Impact AI’s Efficiency

Both character length and complexity play a significant role in determining the strength of a password and its ability to withstand AI-driven attacks.

Character length directly affects the size of the search space, which represents the number of potential password combinations. Longer passwords lead to an exponentially larger search space, making it extremely difficult for AI to guess the right combination. Calculating the number of possible passwords also means raising the complexity to the power of the length. 

For example, an 8-character password with 26 lowercase letters results in 208 billion possible passwords, while a 12-character password with 95 printable ASCII characters extends the count to a staggering 540 trillion possible passwords. So, having a longer password plays a bigger role in making it strong compared to making it more complex, but that doesn’t mean complexity is not important.

Character complexity, on the other hand, refers to the variety and unpredictability of characters used in a password. Passwords relying on common words or predictable patterns are vulnerable to AI techniques like dictionary attacks and natural language processing. 

So, if a password includes a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces, it becomes much more challenging for AI to crack. This is because such passwords lack recognizable patterns and offer higher uncertainty or entropy. Higher entropy means a more uncertain and unpredictable password, resulting in a significantly larger number of possible passwords.

The Reality of User Password Practices: Risk of Breach Looms Large

As AI improves over time, the importance of maintaining secure passwords cannot be stressed enough. However, despite this awareness, many people still make mistakes with their passwords, putting themselves at risk.

The results of poor password practices are evident in numerous data breaches and credential theft incidents, with stolen passwords accounting for approximately 61% of such breaches, mostly occurring through phishing attacks.

One major issue is the overall habit of using the same password across different accounts, despite being aware of the risks involved. Surprisingly, about 84% of users fall into this trap, as studies have shown. This is a serious problem because if one account gets hacked, cybercriminals can easily access other accounts using the same password.

Adding to the concern, many people still tend to choose weak passwords that are easy to guess, like ‘123456’, ‘qwerty’, or ‘password’. Such passwords are like leaving the front door wide open for hackers and neglecting the security measures put in place by websites.

Another alarming trend is password sharing. Reports suggest that nearly 70% of users share their passwords with acquaintances, increasing the likelihood of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.

Lastly, despite major progress in cybersecurity, many people are yet to take advantage of one of the best security measures available, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring multiple verification methods, making it tougher for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access. Yet, not many people are using this tool, leaving themselves exposed to risks that can be easily avoided.

Essential Password Safety Practices in the AI Era

AI tools have made cyber attackers stronger, so it’s important to take steps to protect our accounts and sensitive data. Here are some simple practices you can take to improve your password security against AI-powered attacks:

Use Long and Unique Passwords

Create long and different passwords for each account. Longer passwords, at least 16 characters, are harder for AI to crack. Avoid common phrases or combinations that can be easily guessed. Instead, try using passphrases, which are sentences that are easy to remember but difficult for AI algorithms to predict.

Get a Password Manager

Use a password manager to securely create, store, and manage your passwords. These tools generate random and strong passwords for each account and keep them safe behind a master password or biometric authentication. They can also auto-fill passwords during logins, so you don’t have to remember or type them, reducing the chances of mistakes.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

If possible, enable MFA for all your accounts. This adds an extra layer of security beyond just the password. Once enabled, MFA requires a code on your phone or your fingerprint or face scan to work. It can also help recover your account if your password gets compromised.

Keep Your Passwords Private

Never share your passwords with anyone, as much as possible. And if you must share, avoid doing it through insecure channels like email or instant messaging. By keeping passwords confidential, you can reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

Be Careful with Unknown Devices and Networks

Don’t enter passwords on devices or networks you don’t trust or control. Cyber attackers can take advantage of exposure in public computers or unsecured Wi-Fi to steal passwords. Stick to devices and networks you know are safe for sensitive tasks.

Change Passwords

You can limit the exposure time by periodically changing your passwords in case of potential data breaches. The frequency of password changes should depend on how sensitive the accounts are. If you suspect any unauthorized access, change your password immediately.

Leave a Comment