Most common SSH passwords revealed

It is not only ignorant computers users who are using weak username and password combinations as a new website shows

September 15, 2010
Most common SSH passwords revealed

New computer users are often criticized for weak username and password combinations which can create significant security vulnerabilities in any organization.

Many companies have even imposed strict password policies which may include regular forced password changes, automated password generation and ‘strong password’ validation before accepting a new password.

While strict password policies may work well in theory, their value is often undone by something as simple as a post-it pasted on a computer screen to help an employee remember his newly generated strong password.

It is however not only ignorant computer users who are to blame for weak username and password selections. 

Dragon Research Group (DRG) has recently released the results of their “SSH password authentication insight and analysis” research, showing a surprising amount of weak usernames and passwords used by SSH users.

DRG points out that the Secure Shell (SSH) architecture is a set of protocols and tools based on the ability to enable encrypted remote system login.  SSH has largely replaced tools such as TELNET and rsh for most system administrative needs and is widely used by more tech-savvy individuals.

“Most SSH implementations have had good track records, having been responsible for relatively few bugs that lead to widespread anonymous attacks against the protocol or implementation. However, like many systems, SSH is only as safe as its weakest link,” said DRG.

“Often the weakest link in SSH configurations is the reliance on username and password authentication. When passwords are weak or easily guessed, other underlying SSH benefits are rendered worthless. Unfortunately, many SSH systems are susceptible to brute force password guessing and dictionary attacks.”

From the DRG’s recently released “Username and Password Authentication Tag Clouds” it is clear that many SSH users are making use of very weak username and password combinations. 

The following table provides an overview of the most used SSH usernames and passwords:

DRG SSH Username and Password Authentication
Most popular usernames Most popular passwords
root 123456
admin password
oracle 1234
test 123
user 12345

Other popular passwords amoung the surveyed SSH users include the easily guessable admin, abc123, passwd, qwerty, test, test123, root, linux, user, 1, and administrator.

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