Default encrypted passwords

John E. Malmberg malmberg at
Thu Sep 27 08:36:02 GMT 2001

> On Thu, 27 Sep 2001, James Nord wrote:
> I have just finished giving a lecture about security in system
> administratrion.  One of the things I said to the students was the following
>     "If it uses unencrypted passwords over the network get rid of it and
> replace it with an encrytped equivellent"

Removing the plain text passwords from an SMB network only eliminates the
probability that someone could use those same passwords to attack other

If someone untrustworthy has access to your physical network, unless you
have all data streams encrypted, it is likely that assuming that they have
enough skill, they can compromise any system on the network.

Most network protocols are vulnerable to this in one way or another.

Even with an all encrypted data stream network, every workstation must
have the ability to decrypt all data, so if one workstation is compromised
it is as good as having a plain text tap on the network.

Now this is not really much of a concern for most sites.

A. The skill level needed to exploit this type of security vulnerabilty
   is reasonably high.  High skill can usually get high paid jobs.
   In most cases at a company the people with these skills are the ones
   with a responsibilty to make sure that the systems are secure.

B. Social Engineering or bribery is a much lower cost method and seems to
   have higher returns.

If you can not convince your user community as to why they must follow
good security practices, and also how to recognize and report social
engineering attempts, then all technical safeguards are useless.

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