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UNIX Co-Founder Ken Thompson’s BSD Password Has Finally Been Cracked

ken thompson unix bsd password

A 39-year-old password of Ken Thompson, the co-creator of the UNIX operating system among, has finally been cracked that belongs to a BSD-based system, one of the original versions of UNIX, which was back then used by various computer science pioneers.

In 2014, developer Leah Neukirchen spotted an interesting “/etc/passwd” file in a publicly available source tree of historian BSD version 3, which includes hashed passwords belonging to more than two dozens Unix luminaries who worked on UNIX development, including Dennis Ritchie, Stephen R. Bourne, Ken Thompson, Eric Schmidt, Stuart Feldman, and Brian W. Kernighan.

Since all passwords in that list are protected using now-depreciated DES-based crypt(3) algorithm and limited to at most 8 characters, Neukirchen decided to brute-force them for fun and successfully cracked passwords (listed below) for almost everyone using password cracking tools like John the Ripper and hashcat.

The ones that she wasn’t able to crack belonged to Ken Thompson and five other contributors who helped build the Unix system, including Bill Joy, who later co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1986 and designed the Java programming language.

“Ken’s password eluded…

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