Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Free MacWorld Platinum Pass? Yes in 2008!

Last year at this time I disclosed an issue with the IDG/MacWorld Expo registration that allowed people Free Platinum Passes (valued at $1,695). I communicated this issue with IDG the week of MacWorld and they removed all the codes, fixed the site, and said thanks. Questions were asked on how to write better code and I gave them a few tips (don't trust user input, don't give your secret codes to everyone, encryption is not one-way, etc). Did they listen?


Why Do I Do This?

Who wants to stand in line to see the Steve Jobs keynote at MacWorld? I mean have you SEEN the lines there? Really? I want to know WHATS IN THE AIR(tm)!!!

Honestly it's academic to me. I didn't even go to the keynote. :P

Getting Your Golden (Well, Blue) Ticket:

This year the cost of Platinum Passes has gone up to $1,895. That's a lot of money but you get a lot of cool things:
  • A free lunch every day
  • Free ticket to the MacWorld Blast
  • Seminars (MacWorld is more than just the keynote and Expo)
  • Priority Access Line to the Keynote
You can see why the cost. Last year the word "CREDIT" provided a 100% discount on checkout. These are called Application Logic Flaws and aren't new attacks but they can be devastating .

Like last year IDG is passing a long list of MD5 hashes to the client browser and validating them in JavaScript before sending a request to the server -- but that's really only a problem if the codes that give the discounts exist and are easily cracked. Lets see if we can get lucky this year.

Obtaining the codes -- Same as last year:

Step 1. Navigate to the main registration page
Step 2. Submit your initial data and view the source of the main registration page, search for "Priority Code"
Step 3. See the JavaScript "onchange" function? It's calling "check_password()"
Step 4. Search for "check_password()" and you'll find the list of valid codes in MD5
Step 5. Format the data for your cracker of choice and start cracking!

Cracking the codes:

I like John The Ripper for all my hash cracking needs. It's flexible, easy to use and affordable! There are two main methods used to crack passwords in John, using a wordlist or incrementing through a given keyspace. I always begin with a wordlist run just to kick out the quickies. The hash for "NONE" breaks but we already know that doesn't do anything for us.

Incremental mode is our next step but we know lower case letters aren't used so a quick look at the configuration file shows an external mode "Filter_LanMan" that throws everything to upper case. A quick run through doesn't net any cracked hashes unfortunately. There are still over 1,000 hashes to crack so we have to be a bit more intelligent in our cracking (or throw more machines, wait longer, get a PS3, etc).

A Brief Cracking Sidebar:

Incremental cracking can take a long time to perform. The size of your keyspace (k) and the maximum word length (l) determine the total number of permutations that have to be encrypted to check every instance (P). P=k^l. Take the benchmark cracks-per-second your machine takes (Cs), do the math (P/Cs) and you have the number of seconds it takes to run an Incremental.

For example lets make k = 69, l = 8 and Cs = 30 million:
((69^8)/30M) / 60 = 285,443.54 minutes (3.68 months!)
Changing l for different lengths and the time changes accordingly:
((69^7)/30M) / 60 = 4,136.86 minutes for 7 chars
((69^6)/30M) / 60 = 59.95 minutes for 6 chars
and so on. . . The time is cumulative and those are just my numbers. Some have found ways to increase the speed to 1 billion cracks-per-second. Until that code is released or we write our own, we have to work with clusters of machines to reach that. My little cluster of 9 nodes can do just about 60 million MD5's a second so a full 8 character run would take nearly 2 months to complete.

Now that you know the math and the big mountain ahead of us, how can we get on the gondola that takes you over half of it without much effort? The answer is simple, vendor codes and keyword masking!

Here Come The Free Codes:

Vendors receive a group of codes each to pass along to their customers, potential customers, friends, family, etc. These typically provide free Expo access but maybe they'll help trim down this mountain to something manageable. These free codes get passed around like candy so finding one takes a few Google searches. 08-G-PC189, 08-G-PC178, 08-G-PC260,
do you see the pattern?

Time To Build An External Filter:

Now that we have a mask (08-x-y(n)) time to modify the john.conf accordingly:

File = $JOHN/lanman.chr
MinLen = 6
MaxLen = 6
CharCount = 69

void filter()
int i, c;
i = 0;

while (c = word[i]) {
// If character is lower case, convert to upper
if (c >= 'a' && c <= 'z')
word[i] &= 0xDF;

// We know the static filter 08-?-?????
// Add or remove word[]s to fit the incremental length
word[9] = word[5];
word[8] = word[4];
word[7] = word[3];
word[6] = word[2];
word[5] = word[1];
word[4] = '-';
word[3] = word[0];
word[2] = '-';
word[1] = '8';
word[0] = '0';
With that, we run and wait...
# john -i=MW -e=MW --format=raw-MD5
Loaded 1341 password hashes with no different salts (Raw MD5 [raw-md5 SSE2])
.. but not too long because the first code looks REALLY interesting: 08-S-STAFF. Lets try it!

Download the High Quality version.

Voila. For the second year in a row, a free Platinum Pass in less than a day.

On January 7th we noticed the MD5 hashes changed in the source code. While the special code was still listed it no longer gave a 100% discount when entered. Some codes still provide a small percentage discount and a few do provide a free expo pass. We still have 14 codes left to crack so no telling if those are any good. :)

Thanks to Josh Bernstein and Garrett Gee for reminding me MacWorld was coming up and independently confirming these findings.

Maybe next year the problem will be fixed? Anyone in a betting mood? :)


Unknown said...

Ahhh, but it's even better than P/Cs - assuming the encryption algorithm is approaching a uniform cyphertext distribution (which is the goal of most cryptosystems), then the EXPECTED crack time is equal to P/2(Cs).

Justin A said...

Funny, I told IDG about this problem back in 2003, along with another problem which they did fix...
I managed to find the email I sent them:

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 13:38:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Justin A <...>
Subject: Problems with linuxworld (and other?) registrations

The registration system... sucks.

If you are at
and click "REGISTER NOW!"
it asks for some information, if you then enter say,"j" for first name, and continue, you then get:

"We have the following possible matches based on your lookup information. If you see a record listed here that matches your information, you can choose it to view a confirmation of your registration. If you are not listed here, and would like to begin a new registration, click the 'Next' button to continue."

Followed by the names and information of everyone who registered with the first name starting with 'j'

This is compltely opposite of your privacy policy, which states: "The information we collect is used to improve the content of our Web page, not shared with other organizations for commercial purposes."

Now I would really like to register, but not if anyone can look up my information...

Also, the priority codes are visible but hashed with md5. Since they are so short, it only takes about 5 hours to crack them all.

Unknown said...


nice handy work, keep cracking.


Ontario Emperor said...

Two questions.

The picture says "PLATINUM PASS & IPHONE." Would you have been theoretically eligible to get a free iPhone also?

My other question regards your timing. From the text, I'm assuming that you posted this AFTER Jobs' keynote, but I wonder if it would have been better to post it AFTER the entire show had concluded? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the timing of the release of the information.

Damon said...

Out of curiosity, what software do you use for your cracking cluster?

Kurt Grutzmacher said...

@Ontario: All MacWorld attendees can try for the free iPhone. Just goto the web site and enter your address.

The timing was after the keynote for a reason. It could have been earlier because the 'free' code had already been removed from the back-end.

@Damon: MPICH2 + John the Ripper. Easy to do with the new Backtrack 3 Beta and PXE booting.

Anonymous said...

with another problem which they did fix...
I managed to find the email I sent them:

Unknown said...

So has the issue been fixed for MacWorld 2009?