Don't let them infect your devices

Egyptian police show uncanny expertise for password hacking

Despite the nefarious and dastardly deeds carried out by many hackers, from emptying money out of someone’s bank account to stealing identities, lurking somewhere in the depths of our minds there may be a grudging respect for their skills.
After all many of these people have spent years studying the dark art of computer science. This may have been in the halls of some hallowed university or they may have acquired hard won expertise after spending years crouched over a computer in their bedroom.

How much technical knowledge does it take to hack one’s computer quickly and effectively?

Whichever way you look at it, for the uninitiated the dark art of hacking is often shrouded in impenetrable jargon and guarded with a language that seems nonsensical to many. After all, how many ordinary computer users truly understand what a SQL injection flaw is or the implications of attacks designed to exploit SCADA systems? The Egyptian police are no different to the rest of us when it comes to these issues. But being the ‘representatives’ of law and order in that troubled country they are obliged to find answers when the perceived need necessitates. And it seems they are not without the required ‘skills’. When Newsweek correspondent, Mike Giglio, found himself in Cairo’s Tahir Square covering the latest protests, he probably never anticipated that he would find out just how ‘technical’ is the password cracking expertise of the Egyptian police.

Brute-force-hacking, an old-school effective method

Picked up by the boys in olive and khaki he was asked to hand over his laptop. They opened it on the spot to find out what information it held. Were they looking for sensitive state secrets, compromising images of state-sponsored thuggery or damning critiques of Egypt’s fledgling endeavours to a democracy of sorts? Who really knows?  But when confronted with a password request before access was allowed to this potential ‘treasure trove’ they stumbled – but only for a second before their reflexive training apparently kicked in. Employing probably the oldest password cracking technique known they simply punched him in the head until he coughed up the details.

  Mike Giglio tweet        

It gives a whole new meaning to the password cracking technique commonly known as brute-force hacking.


Written by Steve Bell

Steve has a background in IT and business journalism and has written extensively for both the UK national and trade press including The Guardian, Independent-on-Sunday, The Times, The Register, MicroScope and Computer Weekly. He's also worked for most of the world's largest IT companies producing content producing. He has a particular focus on IT security and has produced several magazines in this area.

More articles by Steve Bell

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