Linux Distribution Tames Chaos
Source: - Posted by Benjamin D. Thomas   
Security Projects Chaos, a Linux distribution developed by Australian Ian Latter, harnesses the unused processing power of networked PCs, creating a distributed supercomputer that can crack passwords at lightning speed. The program remotely boots Linux on a PC without touching the hard drive, leaving the "slave" PC's operating system and data secure and untouched. Thirty PCs connected as a cluster create enough processing power to complete complex mathematical equations or high-level security tasks like password cracking that no individual PC could handle alone.

Chaos has been a boon for internet security firm Pure Hacking, where Latter works as senior security consultant. Companies pay Pure Hacking to do controlled penetration tests of their network and try to break their access controls.

"There's nothing that stands out more to a CEO than a page that contains his or her password," said Latter with a chuckle. However, Pure Hacking needs to be able to accomplish in a day what would take an accomplished cracker a month to complete. "The best way to do this is to apply a lot of computers to the task, and this is what Chaos was built for," added Latter.

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