Here’s how to grab login credentials on Windows using a USB mini-computer

A security engineer has discovered how to grab the login credentials of a logged-in but locked Windows computer by simply using a $50 USB mini-computer running Linux. Rob “mubix” Fuller even managed to grab login credentials from locked OS X “El Capitan” and “Mavericks” computers.

“First off, this is dead simple and shouldn’t work, but it does,” Fuller, one of the principal security engineers at R5 Industries, recently blogged. “Also, there is no possible way that I’m the first one that has identified this, but here it is (trust me, I tested it so many ways to confirm it because I couldn’t believe it was true).”

He began the experiment using a $155 USB Armory, a flash-drive sized computer with an 800MHz processor based on ARM Cortex-A8 core technology, 512MB of DDR3 system memory, a MicroSD card slot, and native support for Android, Debian, Ubuntu, and Arch Linux. However, he also ended up using a $50 Hak5 Turtle mini-computer with a built-in Ethernet port for wired networking. The USB Armory device can emulate Ethernet connectivity as well.

The blog shows how he set up both devices. First, the Armory device needed Python installed, and then he set up its interface, its DHCP server, and other small details before he could insert the device into the computer’s USB port. The Hak5 Turtle unit was nearly ready right out of the box. Ultimately, both units were capable of grabbing login credentials in about 13 seconds, depending on the system. The Armory device even lit up an LED when it obtained the credentials.

According to Fuller, the Armory unit is more versatile, has more storage, and uses a faster processor. The Hak5 Turtle unit is less suspicious appearance-wise because of the built-in Ethernet port, but it doesn’t sport an LED indicating that credentials are captured. However, it’s capable of getting Shell access to the connected PC as well as login credentials.

In the tests, both devices used a software module called Responder, which allows the devices to become a network gateway, a DNS server, a WPAD server, and more. This software is defined as an LLMNR, NBT-NS and MDNS poisoner, meaning it enables the device to appear a PC on a local network and respond with false information to another machine on the network looking for a host address, such as a network printer. In turn, the device using Responder will say it’s actually the printer (which it’s not), thus the “victim” computer will send the login credentials to the device.

So why does this work? “Because USB is plug-and-play,” Fuller says. “This means that even if a system is locked out, the device still gets installed. Now, I believe there are restrictions on what types of devices are allowed to install at a locked out state on newer operating systems (Win10/El Capitan), but Ethernet/LAN is definitely on the white list.”

So far, Fuller has tested this “hack” on Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP3, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Home, OS X El Capitan, and OS X Mavericks. He has yet to test this method on a Linux machine, so stay tuned for that.

Product Review

LG Gram 14 proves 2-in-1 laptops don’t need to sacrifice battery for light weight

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 aims to be very light for a laptop that converts to a tablet. And it is. But it doesn’t skimp on the battery, and so it lasts a very long time on a charge.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Mobile

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

AMD Radeon VII will support DLSS-like upscaling developed by Microsoft

AMD's Radeon VII has shown promise with early tests of an open DLSS-like technology developed by Microsoft called DirectML. It would provide similar upscale features, but none of the locks on hardware choice.
Computing

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?
Computing

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Computing

Cortana wants to be friends with Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft no longer wants to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the digital assistant space. Instead, it wants to transform Cortana into a skill that can be integrated into other digital assistants.
Computing

Microsoft leans on A.I. to resume safe delivery of Windows 10 Update

Microsoft is leaning on artificial intelligence as it resumes the automatic rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. You should start seeing the update soon now that Microsoft has resolved problems with the initial software.
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.