Rainbow tables might sound like a relaxing or funny thing. Still, they are a serious one. These tables are a powerful tool used by the good and the bad guys.
Usually, they use them to make decrypting passwords possible. Experts use them to check if security standards are efficient.
Hackers use them to access accounts and steal personal data, and even money. This is because the tables can help programmers to find passwords quickly. Do not worry! We let you know how to stay safe.
How do the rainbow tables work?
These tables are, in fact, databases. Security specialists use them to test passwords. But hackers try to crack the passwords using the same tables.
As we mentioned password hashing, let’s also explain it. This is the algorithmic process of turning a password into a ciphertext. In the process, the passwords go through a hashing algorithm. This encrypts the text and transforms it into a string of letters and numbers.
So, these databases are extremely important for the safety of our accounts. The passwords we choose do not appear in plain text, preventing hackers from easily breaking into these accounts. The system is even more important for online banking accounts.
There is no chance for villains to identify the password from the hash value, even if they know the crypto function.
Still, they found a way. Here are the steps that they follow for this:
- They try to get access to leaked hashes, by buying them from the dark web, or by using phishing techniques.
- Once they have the password hashes, they use rainbow tables to decrypt them.
But there is a helpful technique to prevent these. It is called “salting”, and it makes these attacks useless. In fact, it means adding an extra random value to each hashed password. Thus, a different hash value occurs.
Still, not all developers use it, which increases the risk of rainbow table attacks. We show you how to protect yourself, in case developers did not use it.
How to defend yourself?
As regular users, there are a few important rules:
- Use strong, long passwords. They should contain upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Their role is to make decryption too elaborate for the attackers.
- Avoid using real words, but rather random strings of characters. This would avoid the situation when your password might occur in password dictionaries.
- Never use a password twice! Thus, you make it more difficult for hackers to break your accounts, and save your personal data.
So, general online hygiene also works in this case. Follow the security and privacy rules, and you can avoid becoming a victim!