Use SHA-2 by default instead of MD5 for password encrypting

Ilya Kaliman ilya.kaliman at
Tue Dec 28 22:58:02 PST 2010

By the way here is a nice article about why general purpose hash
functions are bad for hashing passwords:


On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 9:25 AM, Bruce Dubbs <bruce.dubbs at> wrote:
> William Immendorf wrote:
>> Let's face it: MD5, while it might be more than plain old DES, it is a
>> weak algorithm to encrypt your passwords with. To give you proof, in
>> 2008, researchers demonstrated that MD5 is very weak to collision
>> attacks, and can create false data that appears to be trustworthy. For
>> proof:
>> And the recommendation: Do not use MD5 for anything. This includes
>> certificates, passwords, and even for verifying files. So, this means
>> that it's time to switch to different algorithms.
>> The only two choices we have right now are Blowfish, and SHA-2 (256
>> and 512). Since using Blowfish requires modifications to Glibc and
>> Shadow, this means the easiest route to take would be to use SHA-2.
>> What this means for both LFS and BLFS is:
>>   * The Shadow instructions need to have the password encryption
>> changed from MD5 to SHA-512
>>   * The PAM configuration files also need MD5 converted to SHA-512
>>   * And all of the MD5 hashes for the packages need to be converted to
>> SHA-256 hashes.
>> The last one would require changes to all of the books in order to
>> work. But belive me, with the flaws that MD5 has, you probably want to
>> ditch it sooner or later.
>> As for which list this belongs on, I belive it belongs on all of the
>> -dev lists, but I'll first send it to the lfs-dev list.
> You are probably right about shadow, but the main reason for the
> checksums for package downloads is to provide data integrity, not
> security.  The better way for ensuring a package has not been
> intentionally modified is to use digital signatures.
> The chances that a package at one of the sites where we get packages is
> quite small.  Since we are downloading source code.  The changes would
> be detected fairly quickly and the fact that it happened would be all
> over the net.
> For shadow, I believe the only change needed is the third sed:
>        -e 's@/var/spool/mail@/var/mail@' etc/login.defs
> Although PAM is in BLFS, I'm not aware of any changes to that package
> that would be needed to utilize a different login encryption method.
> For changing a password, I think that PAM uses whatever method currently
> is in use.   Let me add a caveat though.  I haven't used PAM in several
> years.  I think it just gets in the way.
> I think this is the right list for the discussion.
>   -- Bruce
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