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Flaw in Kaspersky Password Manager Password Generator Made Passwords Susceptible to Brute Force Attacks

Security researchers have discovered the random password generator of the Kaspersky Password Manager (KPM) was generating passwords that were susceptible to brute force attacks.

Password managers often include a password generator to help users create unique, random, complex passwords for their accounts. In a recent blog post, researchers at security firm Donjon said the pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) used by the KPM solution was not sufficiently random to create strong passwords. As a result, any passwords generated could be brute forced in a matter of minutes, and in seconds if the approximate time that the account password was created is known.

Password generation in KPG involves suggesting a password based on the policy created by the user. Those policies are set for password length and the characters that must be included (upper/lower case letters, numbers, special characters).  While several issues were found with the solution, the main problem was the PRNG was not suitable for cryptographic purposes, as the single source of entropy was the current time in seconds.

Since the current system time was the random seed value, the password manager would generate identical passwords at any given time for all users worldwide.

“The consequences are obviously bad: every password could be bruteforced,” explained the researchers. “For example, there are 315619200 seconds between 2010 and 2021, so KPM could generate at most 315619200 passwords for a given [character set]. Bruteforcing them takes a few minutes.”

“It is quite common that web sites or forums display the creation time of accounts,” explained the researchers. “Knowing the creation date of an account, an attacker can try to bruteforce the account password with a small range of passwords (~100) and gain access to it.”

The vulnerability was reported to Kaspersky in June 2019, and updates were issued between October 2019 and December 2019, but they failed to fully fix the problem. The flaw was assigned CVE-2020-27020 and was corrected in KPM 9.0.2 Patch M on October 13, 2020. After applying the update, notifications were displayed to users telling them that weak passwords needed to be regenerated. An advisory about the flaw was published by Kaspersky on April 27, 2021.

Any user of KPM that has not applied the updates should do so as soon as possible and follow the advice of the solution to change any weak passwords. Kaspersky explained that while passwords could be discovered by an attacker, this would be unlikely as the attacker would need to know the user’s account information, the exact time that a password was generated, and that KPM was used by that individual.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.