“If someone is attempting to steal your confidential personal data, that’s called a brute force attack.”
Have you ever seen “brute force attack” mentioned online, and thought it was some mysterious thing that hackers do to break in to your computer or website? In fact, brute force attacks are the simplest form of attack available for hackers.
In this article, we’ll go through what a brute force attack is, how it works and where it comes from.
This way, should you hear this term pop up on the news alongside some hacking incident, you’ll know exactly what they mean!
If you are concerned about malicious parties trying to gain access to your network or servers, a common measure used to prevent these types of attacks is referred to as brute force attack prevention.
A brute force attack is when malicious hackers try to gain access to your system, data or network by continuously attempting different username/password combinations until they gain entry.
This can be achieved manually; however, more often than not, they will use a program known as a ‘bot’ which performs this task automatically and generally with much greater speed.
It’s usually used to decrypt passwords or encryption keys. It may also be used to gain access to websites, software, or networks. Brute force attacks are also called brute force cracking.
A brute-force attack is a cryptanalytic attack that can, in theory, be used against any encrypted data (except for data encrypted in an information and theoretically secure manner).
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Types Of Brute Force Attacks
A dictionary attack is a method of breaking into a password-protected computer or server by systematically entering every word in a dictionary as a new password.
A dictionary attack can also include common passwords one would find in a dictionary, such as “password” or “god.” Dictionary attacks are usually used to crack passwords on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
A dictionary attack is slightly different in that it not only uses the full list of words but tries to crack your password using popular words or phrases.
These dictionaries are still comprised of the most commonly used words and phrases, but they may also include commonly used passwords that hackers have stolen or overheard.
The second difference is that these lists are generally much smaller than the straight list of common passwords, which means hackers can enter them into databases more quickly, trying hundreds or even thousands of potential passwords per second.
Even if your password isn’t a four-letter word, this process could still potentially find it with extremely high speed and efficiency simply by trying all possible letter combinations based on word length.
Simple Brute Force Attacks
A simple brute force attack is where a hacker tries to guess your password. They use software that automatically enters a number of guesses in succession; numbers, letters, special characters.
A brute force attack is among the simplest and least sophisticated hacking methods. It’s a simple matter of trying every possible combination of characters, symbols, and words until the hacker gets into your system.
As you can imagine, even with a four-digit pin number, a hacker can guess as many as 10,000 combinations within an hour.
Reverse Brute Force Attack
Reverse Brute Force attacks are when a hacker targets an individual with a huge amount of passwords in the hope that they will get the right password.
Interdiction and Extortion is a type of Reverse Brute Force Attack.
Hybrid Brute Force Attacks
Hybrid brute force attacks use a dictionary attack, followed by brute force to crack passwords.
A hybrid brute force attack combines both the dictionary and standard brute force methods. This type of attack would begin with a list of words, “websites”, with an appended numerical digit (like the methods described above).
But instead of simply trying each word and appending a number, it will use several character changing means to create more possible combinations.
For instance, it might change all upper case letters to lower case and vice versa. It would then try these combinations after every word in the dictionary is tried and apps a digit as described above.
The third approach in trying to decipher the complex passwords is a hybrid brute force attack. This method combines the Dictionary with Brute Force.
First, it uses a dictionary with various combinations and then the dictionary attacks (for instance ‘123456’,’Test’,’me@home’,’123456789′,’password’). If that does not work, then it starts checking for password of 1 character long then ends with a maximum of possible characters based on the complexity.
Motivations Behind Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks aren’t designed to accomplish a single goal. They’re typically used to help criminals find additional ways into your systems, solidify other methods of attack, or collect information that’s needed to carry out more targeted attacks.
Of course, a brute force attack doesn’t have to be carried out by one person. Many times attackers will use botnets made up of thousands of hijacked computers to make multiple attempts at one time, increasing the chance the attack will work.
To Spread Malware
Security experts at the University of Illinois call this “a most dangerous Trojan” that can easily spread via email and text messages. After you open the attachment or click on the link, your computer will be infected with malware.
A brute force attack is a cyber attack that involves trying many password guesses in rapid succession. The purpose of the attack is to try and find the correct password that allows access to an account or resource.
Stealing Personal Data
You receive an email that looks like it was sent by your bank. The message asks you to click on a link to update your account information. You do this and enter in some personal data, such as your Social Security number and credit card information.
What you don’t know is the email is fake and the people behind it are fraudsters who want to steal your money or your personal data.
Many are tempted by the idea of stealing money from organizations and individuals, and so online financial crime is a very real risk which millions have fallen victim to. For these reasons, it is important to protect your financial information online, as well as report online financial incidents to the police.
The use of many computers and servers to retrieve or crack PIN numbers or algorithms that have encrypted data requires a great deal of processing power, which translates into money. With so much at stake, it may be worth the cost to criminal elements.
Ruining a Company’s Brand Reputation
Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately, but did you know that a brute force attack could accomplish the same thing? Just like ransomware attacks, a brute force attack can completely ruin a company’s brand reputation.
For example, if your competition has access to your company’s trade secrets and confidential files, they could share your business’s proprietary information with other industries—or even the public.
Large companies are more at risk than smaller ones. Why? Well they are more susceptible to brute force attacks because they have been in the business longer, and there is a larger pool of customer data that can be stolen.
One hacked major company can affect multiple other businesses as well. A cyber hacker can also create an intentional attack on a company’s website to damage an enterprise’s brand reputation and knock them offline for hours or days.
This makes it impossible for customers to purchase products or access information. If a customer cannot engage with your business, then it will reflect poorly on their overall experience, making them less likely to do business with you again.
Brute force attacks are not always that easy to stop, but there are some steps you can take to prevent them from happening.
One thing to do is to try and make it harder for brute force attacks by using a long and complex password.
Another action you can take is to limit the attempts at login. Of course, this comes with a risk of locking out a legitimate user, so be sure to read your administrator guide on how to lock out an account. Another method is making sure that you have SSL enabled on your website as HTTPS will help protect against brute force attacks as well.