Brute Force Attacks: Definition and Prevention
Brute Force Attack

08/11/2021 by admin with 0 comments

What is a Brute Force Attack & How to Prevent It?

Brute force attacks do not rely on the website’s vulnerabilities but bad actors may use other tactics. It becomes easy for the hackers to guess the credentials because these attacks make the websites weak and hackers can extract the data. Brute force attacks have become very popular due to their simplicity and amount of targets. When a bad actor attempts a large number of combinations on the target then brute force attacks occur. Multiple attempts frequently take place by these attacks on account passwords along with a hope that one of them will definitely show validity. It might be difficult to try all possible combinations on a padlock. 

Purpose of Brute Force Attacks

The main objective of the brute force attack for a resource is to gain access otherwise it will restrict other users. This includes administrative accounts, password-protected pages, or enumerate valid emails on a given website. The entire website can be compromised after gaining access to a valid account. 

Working of a Brute Force Attack

One of the common types of brute force attacks is a dictionary attack. It also includes a list of credentials. To gain access to administrative accounts, common usernames and passwords need to be used. The most commonly used credentials that generic dictionary attacks use for login are admin and 123456.

What Does a Brute Force Attack Look Like?

For identifying brute force attempts, it is very important to use common sense. It will mainly appear repeatedly after various unsuccessful attempts of login into an account. It will consider as an attempted brute force attack. There are various signs that display:

  • When you try to log in multiple times with the same IP address and the attempt is unsuccessful.
  • Several different IP addresses unsuccessfully trying to log in to a single account.
  • Several IP addresses attempt multiple unsuccessful logs in over a short period of time.

Examples of Brute Force Attack

Some examples of brute force attacks could see on a botnet such as DDoS attacks. The other examples show that how the credentials of the brute force attackers deface a website. On a website, access can be gained to an administrative account which is the same as exploiting a severe vulnerability. For profiting the access the hackers will attempt some tricks such as adding spam, distributing malware, and phishing unsuspecting victims. 

Types of Brute Force Attacks

The act of trying various possible combinations is referred to as brute force but many variants if this attack can increase its success rate.

  • Simple Brute Force Attack – Different methods can be used in a generic brute force attack like all possible passwords will iterate at one time. This is basically used on local files where you have an unlimited number of attempts. The success rate of other attacks is more at this scale.
  • Dictionary Attack – The list of words and common passwords are used by this attack instead of going in randomly. This attack helps to build a dictionary of possible passwords and iterating through them. The success rate of the attackers improves after using a good list of passwords but a large amount of attempts is needed against possible targets. 
  • Hybrid Brute Force Attack – The dictionary attack and regular iterative pattern are used by a hybrid attack. It will not try all passwords rather perform small modifications to words in the addition of a dictionary-like number or changing the case of letters.
  • Credential Stuffing – Along with a growing amount of data breaches, one of the easy methods is password reuse to compromise particular accounts reusing passwords. The attacks done by credential stuffing have a low success rate. These attacks mainly rely on the usernames and passwords lists that are commonly found in data breaches. These lists are used by the hackers to try to log in with the stolen credentials. It will stress the importance of updating the username and password if any data is involved in a breach. 

Ways to Prevent Brute Force Attacks

No vulnerability per se is shown by the brute force attacks. It is not enough to keep the software up to date. There are some common methods that help to prevent these attacks:

1. Usage of Strong Passwords – Weak passwords are used in brute force attacks. A strong password consists of the following traits:

  • Unique: Don’t reuse passwords as websites get compromised and one can easily crack the passwords. Attackers can easily target the credentials of the website that is why always use unique passwords.
  • Long: The possible combination increases with long passwords. The passwords which consist 5 characters are very easy to crack, 10 characters’ password takes some years, and 20 characters’ password would nearly impossible to crack.
  • Hard to guess: If you make a password including your name or city where you live might easy to guess and hackers can easily crack it. This same thing is valid for common text like ‘123456’ or ‘password’ because they are easy to remember and guess. 


2. Access Restricted to Authentication URLs – Brute force attacks are needed to send credentials. If the login page URL is changed then it is enough to stop automated and bulk tools. For example – moving from /wp-login.php to /mysite-login. If the link appears on the page and guessable then this suggestion will not work on advanced attacks but it’s an easy method to prevent automated attacks.

3. Limit Login Attempts – The brute force attacks mainly rely on attempting several passwords and accounts. The attackers cannot try more than a few passwords after restricting login attempts to a small amount per user. 

4. Use CAPTCHAs – One good way of preventing bots and automated tools is to use captchas. The challenges of the captchas are designed to be solved by humans that is why it is hard for the robots to solve it which can block their attacks. 

5. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – Another layer of security to the login form adds up with the addition of 2FA. After login with the appropriate credentials, a code will come either on email or phone which can only access you. 

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