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The Story of Rockyou

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

// Learn the story of the rockyou.txt file and the defects of repeated passwords...

 
 

Hey Hackers! You have probably heard of or even used the rockyou.txt file if you work in a cybersecurity-related field. You may have also heard about it if you remember the huge data breach back in 2009. Either way, I will explain the history of Rockyou and why you should never use repeated passwords.


I changed my password to "incorrect" so if I ever forget what it is, my computer will say "your password is incorrect"

//What is Rockyou:

Rockyou is a social media, social networking, and application vendor that was based in San Francisco [California]. Although they started off by making a slide show making software, they slowly branched to the world of social media and social networking. This company covered many things like allowing its users to create and develop widgets for an app called MySpace. The Rockyou company also had applications for different social media platforms like Facebook. In fact, they created different third-party software applications for Facebook back in 2007. They were founded back in 2005 and had gained about 32 million users.


//The Data Breach:

Rockyou was doing great until mid-December of 2009, where a hacker got unauthorized access into their account database. Typically, the hacker couldn't do much with the database due to the extensive encryption on the accounts. Unfortunately, Rockyou didn't encrypt their database, they stored it in plaintext. If you are unaware of what plaintext is, it is simply non-encrypted text [this whole article is in plaintext]. The hacker was able to gain access to over 32 million usernames and passwords via an SQL Injection attack. The hacker didn't sell this information, the hacker didn't hold it against the company in exchange for a large sum of money [ransomware attack], the hacker simply uploaded the file [rockyou.txt] to the internet. By doing this, the hacker compromised 32 million people's Rockyou accounts. But because people like to use repeated passwords, the hacker compromised their lives.


//The Outbreak:

People use repeated passwords even though they shouldn't. Now I can't blame them, It's easier to remember. In fact, I used to use repeated passwords too. But the sad thing is that people didn't see the danger in this. Not until Rockyou's data breach. If you use repeated passwords, you are compromising your digital life and accounts. Let me explain.

Let's say you have a Rockyou, Netflix, Gmail, and Bank of America account. Now for each of these accounts, you use the same password [even if it's the world's most secure and unguessable password]. Then all of a sudden, a huge data breach occurs at Rockyou. Your username and password are now easily accessible on the internet. Now literally anybody with internet access could not only have access to your Rockyou account, but have access to your Gmail [and any accounts you use Gmail to sign into with], your bank account, and worse of all, your Netflix account!

Millions of the Rockyou users fell victim to this type of situation, millions. Some are still recovering their digital life to this day. Having to have dealt with identity theft and ransomware. Now you could avoid this entire situation if you didn't use the same password on multiple accounts. If you had a strong unique password for each account, you wouldn't have to worry about the rest of your accounts being compromised. All you would have to do is change the password on your compromised account.


//But How do I Remember All of Those Passwords:

The answer is pretty simple, you don't. By using a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane, you can have all your passwords for all of your accounts easily and safely secured on their highly encrypted database [where they don't have your passwords stored in plaintext]. All you would have to remember is one strong and hard to guess password, a.k.a your master password. You would use this master password on your password manager to gain access to your passwords. These password managers will also autofill on your log in accounts so you wouldn't have to type very long and secure passwords. Password generators will notify you if your accounts have been breached by checking The Dark Web for your exposed credentials. These password managers can randomly generate secure passwords like, "lM!sDdG781pN$Hj4U7vsU*%2faw&@ovVkT6UL5H" or "LzhvFc*!a@fwtN7RXRMl3c*Q$ethLAZZIFZHL3lgrC9F$!34k8B5" for your accounts so that they won't be vulnerable to brute-force attacks.


//The "Upsides" of Rockyou:

Rockyou's data breach was a very important event in digital history. Although it led to the demise of many of its users, there were three main upsides.

First, it taught companies to encrypt their users' account information. This hack almost destroyed Rockyou as a company and ruined it's reputation even further. Companies now are legally required to encrypt this type of information to prevent events like this from occurring again.

Second, it taught users to not use repeated passwords. Even though many people still don't use unique passwords, it taught us how important it is to do so. Seeing the 32 million user accounts freely exposed on the internet, and the several million users who had to deal with the after affects is just shameful. Please, don't use repeated passwords.

Lastly, it introduced a big step in the cybersecurity industry. The rockyou.txt file is used by cybersecurity professionals worldwide to test the security of different systems. Ethical Hackers use this file to access accounts and find certain vulnerabilities in a client's system. The client can now fix these vulnerabilities before a hacker with malicious intent exploits them. Hence saving the company from a situation like Rockyou's data breach.


//Summary:

Rockyou's Data Breach of 2009 was an important yet often overlooked event in our history. I will have some links listed in the "creds" section at the bottom of the article if you wish to learn more about this hack. I hope this article taught you the importance of digital security and the importance of unique passwords. Thanks for reading, and as always,


Happy Hacking!


// Socials:


//Creds:

© 2021 by Cosmodium CyberSecurity LLC

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1 Comment


Taonga CHIKANDO
Taonga CHIKANDO
Jan 13, 2023

thank you guys

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