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So what passwords are those ssh scanners trying?

Published: 2013-05-14
Last Updated: 2013-05-14 02:01:51 UTC
by Jim Clausing (Version: 1)
10 comment(s)

If you run an ssh server (especially if you still run it on the default port), you've no doubt had plenty of folks scan your machine and do password guessing attacks against it.  BTW, you'll never get in mine that way, I only allow public/private key authentication, but that is beside the point here.  I've done a couple of other reports analyzing passwords, and I really like pipal by Robin Wood for much of the analysis (you can grab it from here).  I've been running a kippo ssh honeypot for the day job for about 2 years and I've done a couple of reports on the password guesses for the ThreatTraq webcast, but then I discovered that in addition to firewall logs and the 404 logs, we also collect kippo logs here at the SANS Internet Storm Center.  Ooh, more data!!  If you'd like contribute, please grab https://isc.sans.edu/kipposcript.pl.  So, without further ado, here is what I've found in our kippo data (as of about 15 April 2013).  I should note here, though, that these are the guesses the bad guys are making.  They've developed their lists most likely based on what has worked for someone at some point, so they will be somewhat different from what you find in analyzing passwords from breaches like my analysis of last year's Yahoo breach.

The Basics

Total entries = 15415314
Total unique entries = 46840

 

The Results

Top 10 passwords
123456 = 167854 (1.09%)
password = 113640 (0.74%)
cacutza = 99492 (0.65%)
__--_-__-_ = 79153 (0.51%)
123 = 63557 (0.41%)
root = 61560 (0.4%)
1234 = 58103 (0.38%)
123456789 = 57270 (0.37%)
12345 = 53445 (0.35%)
test = 52231 (0.34%)

Okay, the first thing to note, is that the default password for kippo is 123456, so that may skew the above a bit.  The one I personally find most interesting is the 4th one, '__--_-__-_'.

Top 10 base words
password = 295354 (1.92%)
test = 192825 (1.25%)
pass = 127086 (0.82%)
root = 121704 (0.79%)
cacutza = 99492 (0.65%)
temp = 97145 (0.63%)
p@ssw0rd = 92650 (0.6%)
p4ssword = 88344 (0.57%)
changeme = 74842 (0.49%)
p4ssw0rd = 74329 (0.48%)

So, some variation on password (with or without substitutions).

Password length (count ordered)
6 = 2708563 (17.57%)
8 = 2275062 (14.76%)
7 = 1550776 (10.06%)
9 = 1394644 (9.05%)
10 = 1234997 (8.01%)
4 = 1143617 (7.42%)
5 = 1025693 (6.65%)
12 = 766462 (4.97%)
11 = 647696 (4.2%)
3 = 437702 (2.84%)

The password guesses varied in length from 1 (do people actually allow 1 character passwords?) to 70 characters in length.  The longest ones being shown below

56 = 4504 (0.03%)
57 = 180 (0.0%)
58 = 465 (0.0%)
60 = 17 (0.0%)
62 = 800 (0.01%)
63 = 69 (0.0%)
64 = 369 (0.0%)
70 = 9 (0.0%)
71 = 908 (0.01%)

The mix

One to six characters = 5463941 (35.44%)
One to eight characters = 9289779 (60.26%)
More than eight characters = 6125535 (39.74%)

Only lowercase alpha = 5126974 (33.26%)
Only uppercase alpha = 140773 (0.91%)
Only alpha = 5267747 (34.17%)
Only numeric = 1906165 (12.37%)

First capital last symbol = 135964 (0.88%)
First capital last number = 958843 (6.22%)


One to six characters = 5463941 (35.44%)
One to eight characters = 9289779 (60.26%)
More than eight characters = 6125535 (39.74%)

Only lowercase alpha = 5126974 (33.26%)
Only uppercase alpha = 140773 (0.91%)
Only alpha = 5267747 (34.17%)
Only numeric = 1906165 (12.37%)

First capital last symbol = 135964 (0.88%)
First capital last number = 958843 (6.22%)


Last digit
3 = 1621502 (10.52%)
1 = 1394507 (9.05%)
0 = 620126 (4.02%)
4 = 593100 (3.85%)
6 = 548727 (3.56%)
2 = 478758 (3.11%)
5 = 420699 (2.73%)
9 = 407320 (2.64%)
8 = 318715 (2.07%)
7 = 303304 (1.97%)


Last 3 digits (Top 10)
123 = 1156095 (7.5%)
456 = 380369 (2.47%)
234 = 340074 (2.21%)
345 = 234638 (1.52%)
321 = 212258 (1.38%)
789 = 192424 (1.25%)
678 = 166984 (1.08%)
567 = 154030 (1.0%)
001 = 146204 (0.95%)
111 = 91160 (0.59%)


Character sets
loweralpha: 5126974 (33.26%)
loweralphanum: 4803721 (31.16%)
numeric: 1906165 (12.37%)
loweralphaspecialnum: 803707 (5.21%)
mixedalphanum: 768137 (4.98%)
mixedalphaspecialnum: 641067 (4.16%)
loweralphaspecial: 344881 (2.24%)
upperalphanum: 181283 (1.18%)
mixedalpha: 151523 (0.98%)
special: 149786 (0.97%)
upperalpha: 140773 (0.91%)
upperalphaspecialnum: 133340 (0.86%)
mixedalphaspecial: 91536 (0.59%)
upperalphaspecial: 81044 (0.53%)
specialnum: 66165 (0.43%)


Character set ordering
allstring: 5419270 (35.16%)
othermask: 3833967 (24.87%)
stringdigit: 2622232 (17.01%)
alldigit: 1906165 (12.37%)
stringdigitstring: 478523 (3.1%)
digitstring: 446101 (2.89%)
stringspecial: 184687 (1.2%)
allspecial: 149786 (0.97%)
stringspecialstring: 117368 (0.76%)
digitstringdigit: 114141 (0.74%)
stringspecialdigit: 101918 (0.66%)
specialstring: 25205 (0.16%)
specialstringspecial: 15951 (0.1%)

 

Some final thoughts

Okay, there is some interesting stuff there and if you are interested in the pieces of the standard pipal report that I didn't include there, I've put the full report up on my handler page.  One of the other thing I took a look at was how many in the mix satisfy the standard definition of a "complex" password [lower case, upper case, digits, special characters] (choose 3) and length >= 8.  620413 (4.02%) of the passwords satisfy this definition of complex.  However, when you look at unique passwords, only 1286 (2.75% of the 46840 unique ones) are complex.  So, at least one takeaway is that the more complex you make your crucial passwords the less likely you are to fall victim to this type of password guessing attack.  Of course, 173 of those 1286 were some variation on 'password' with subsitutions or digits and/or special characters tacked on the end.  So, what do you think?  Is there some other aspect of the passwords that I should have looked at?  Let us know in the comment section below or via our contact form.

---------------
Jim Clausing, GIAC GSE #26
jclausing --at-- isc [dot] sans (dot) edu

The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SANS, the Internet Storm Center, the author's spouse, kids, or pets (except maybe the ornery cat).

Keywords: passwords
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