Print 33 comment(s) - last by JimKiler.. on Jul 16 at 2:22 PM

Fortunately passwords appear to have been strongly hashed

NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) had some bad news to announce late yesterday.  The site posted the following statement on its Forums page:

NVIDIA suspended operations of the NVIDIA Forums ( last week.

We did this in response to suspicious activity and immediately began an investigation. We apologize that our continuing investigation is taking this long. Know that we are working around the clock to ensure that secure operations can be restored.

Our investigation has identified that unauthorized third parties gained access to some user information, including:

  • username
  • email address
  • hashed passwords with random salt value
  • public-facing "About Me" profile information
NVIDIA did not store any passwords in clear text. "About Me" optional profiles could include a user’s title, age, birthdate, gender, location, interests, email and website URL – all of which was already publicly accessible.

NVIDIA is continuing to investigate this matter and is working to restore the Forums as soon as possible. We are employing additional security measures to minimize the impact of future attacks.

All user passwords for our Forums will be reset when the system comes back online. At that time, an email with a temporary password, along with instructions on how to change it, will be sent to the user’s registered email address.

As a precautionary measure, we strongly recommend that you change any identical passwords that you may be using elsewhere.

NVIDIA does not request sensitive information by email. Do not provide personal, financial or sensitive information (including new passwords) in response to any email purporting to be sent by an NVIDIA employee or representative.

NVIDIA, like Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), and others likely fell victim to an SQL injection attack.  SQL injection attacks exploit the fact that internet user databases are publicly hosted and send them malformed request strings designed to execute disallowed commands.  They can be defeated by careful programming, but implementing protections is a time intensive and expensive process, hence many companies have vulnerable databases.

[Image Source: NVIDIA Wallpapers]

NVIDIA Forums is a popular stomping ground both for gaming enthusiasts and for programmers developing GPU applications using NVIDIA's proprietary CUDA API.

The first of two major concerns arising from the NVIDIA attack is the possibility of phishing.  Now that an unknown party has users emails, it could send them messages (as the NVIDIA post alludes to), trying to trick them into providing their password in plaintext or other personal details.

The second danger is the possibility that the hashed passwords could be cracked.  NVIDIA did not reveal what hashing algorithm it used, but the fact that it used a random salt value indicates that its passwords were likely relatively strongly hashed.

The announcement was actually the second major announcement of a SQL injection breach on Thursday.  Earlier, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) announced that hackers had found 453,000 of its user passwords.  Yahoo! was less fortunate than NVIDIA -- baffingly it decided to store its user passwords in plaintext, greatly increasing the potential damage to its users.

Source: NVIDIA Forums

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By Mitch101 on 7/13/2012 7:17:27 PM , Rating: 3
Im happy to see NVIDIA Man up on it. I'm a bit confused what hackers would be after on NVIDIA and it sounds like NVIDIA was doing the right thing by encrypting.

As a general practice users shouldn't use the same login/password across sites.

Id even recommend purchasing your own domain and using a catch all email account and having different e-mail addresses. Also tells you which sites sell your info as spam.

I haven't purchased an NVIDIA product in a while and Ill say this wont effect me in any negative way from purchasing from them in the future if I choose to.

By andrewaggb on 7/14/2012 10:21:08 AM , Rating: 2
I think the article is a bit unfair to compare this to yahoo's. It does mention the passwords were hashed with random salts, but in my opinion the yahoo system had no place being used on the internet period. It's totally irresponsible.
Nvidia used hashed passwords and a random salt, which is about the best you can do right now. Quite a difference.

SQL injection is preventable as others have pointed out, so it's still bad, but it's alot easier to be unaware you have a sql injection vulnerability than to be unaware you have plain text passwords.

Anyways, I got an email from nvidia yesterday...

By Etsp on 7/14/2012 3:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
At this point, it really depends on the hash used. All a salt does is prevent the use of rainbow tables.

If it was MD5, these passwords have been decrypted, salt or no salt.

If it was a single pass of SHA512, then, maybe some of them can be decrypted in the coming months.

If it was .1 seconds worth of computation time on an average CPU (1000+ passes of SHA512 hashing), the passwords are likely safe for a few years.

By erple2 on 7/15/2012 12:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
I used to think that. But then I read up something Jeff Atwood posted...

Ultimately it depends on how the nvidia forums hashed their password. SHA512 isn't really safe, and neither is salting. If hackers gained the password db, it's a good bet they might also have gained the salt values, which makes salting worthless. Given the speed at which modern (and ironically, NVidia) GPUs can process most hashing algorithms, it's only a matter of less time than you think of hacking. The only security you have, then, is making a gigantically long password.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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