Brute force attacks are an increasingly common tactic cybercriminals use to gain unwarranted entry to websites, applications, and networks. Automated and sophisticated brute force attacks give cyber criminals powerful weapons for gainful access.
Cybercriminals use automated and software tools to systematically attempt to guess passwords, pins, and encryption keys. Additionally, they may acquire lists of leaked credentials on the Dark Web.
What is a Brute Force Attacks?
A brute force attack is a cyberattack in which criminals attempt to break into user accounts by guessing ID and password combinations through mathematical means, dictionary references, or other techniques -- using login attempts until one matches up successfully with their performances. It has long been favored as one of the primary hacking methods due to its success and remains one of the oldest forms of hacking used today.
Attackers' motivations for attacking websites and their users can be financial and ideological. For instance, attackers might steal and use data for identity theft, monetization, or funding terrorism and other illegal enterprises. Attackers might also deface websites with offensive text and images that harm reputations while costing financially.
At its core, brute force attacks involve hackers simply trying every combination of usernames and passwords until they find one that works; however, cybercriminals may use software or scripts to automate this process and guess passwords automatically. Such tools may be purchased off of dark web marketplaces or as part of malware kits.
Automated brute force attack tools are versatile programs designed to launch rapid attacks by quickly testing vast numbers of combinations. Their rate of attack varies methodically or randomly; additionally, these brute force attack tools may also be used for more advanced techniques like credential stuffing - which involves listing usernames and passwords leaked by other hackers or stolen devices.
Brute force attacks may be the precursors for more advanced and damaging cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks where an attacker demands payment in Bitcoin to unlock accounts or provide access to stolen data. They are also often utilized by malicious actors as a weapon in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, where multiple bots flood websites or servers with so much data that it overwhelms their server, effectively shutting them down.
There are various ways to prevent brute force attacks, including implementing two-step authentication and installing intrusion detection systems. Users can help prevent brute force attacks by adhering to best password practices and creating strong, unique passwords; companies can monitor their networks in real-time for suspicious activity and take immediate measures if any are detected.
Brute Force Attacks on Websites
Attackers use brute force attacks against websites when they wish to access passwords and credentials used for login, crack encryption keys, or locate hidden web pages. While this attack method is old, it remains popular among hackers as it can take seconds to years before successful password combinations are identified.
A brute force attack can be made manually by typing each possible combination or with the aid of scripts that try every possible combination of letters and characters, or it can involve hybrid attacks where attackers start with a known username before employing both dictionary brute force methods as well as brute force to attempt and create login combinations for that account.
Attackers employ brute force attacks primarily for data stealing. Hacking into websites or applications gives attackers access to large quantities of data they can use for any number of purposes, from cybercrimes such as fraud to selling it to advertisers or simply keeping it for themselves.
Detecting brute force attacks on your website may be difficult. Still, it is vitally important that you closely monitor it in real-time for signs such as multiple failed login attempts from a single IP address or several IPs that cannot access your website. By doing this, you can block attackers from entering and prevent them from joining a Brute Force Attacks that could launch DDoS attacks or spread malware into your network.
Your vulnerability to brute force attacks can be reduced by employing solid and complex passwords and not using the same login and password across services. Furthermore, employing web application firewalls and two-factor authentication helps further decrease vulnerability. These security measures help stop bad actors before they gain access to sensitive information for illicit financial gain. Should suspicious or unusual activity appear on your website, it's essential to act quickly by contacting professional IT support as soon as possible.
Brute Force Attacks on Applications
Hackers use brute force attacks to break through cryptographic codes that require many trial-and-error attempts - like passwords, encryption keys, or any other kind of cryptography code requiring trial and error attempts to crack. Think of it like trying to gain entry to a safe by repeatedly throwing different combinations until one opens; roughly five percent of confirmed data breaches in 2017 alone were caused by brute force attacks - an alarming trend.
Brute force attack tools use open source software to automate their processes for hacking passwords and credentials, including dictionary attacks (randomly searching a list from a dictionary), XOR attacks (trying all possible combinations of one character), brute force attacks designed to try all keys on the keyboard simultaneously, as well as attack models designed to detect whether an existing password has already been cracked and make attempts to crack it using simplified versions of original words or characters.
Once hackers gain access to systems through brute force attacks, their impact can be devastating. Once in possession of their password, they can exploit it for financial or malicious gain by stealing proprietary information for competitors or downloading and selling it on the Dark Web, or hold off administrators hostage until receiving ransom payments from them.
An exploit may take months or years to become usable, but attackers could gain full access to your organization's data and systems once they do. As a result, it's crucial that businesses proactively monitor these kinds of attacks with solutions that allow them to detect them as early as possible.
Varonis provides tools that enable organizations to thwart brute force attacks with devices that monitor Active Directory activity and VPN traffic for signs of an attack in progress. Our threat models look out for lockout behaviors - an indicator that an attack might be underway - while our detection and prevention solutions help stop these attempts from ever reaching your network or applications.
Brute Force Attacks on Networks
Hackers employ brute force attacks against passwords, encryption keys, and other security measures websites use to protect data. These methods of attack are highly popular with bad actors because they do not require technical skills or sophisticated tools for execution; depending on its length and complexity, it could take anywhere between seconds to years for one account password or encryption key to be cracked this way. It has also become a commonly employed tactic to steal sensitive information from businesses.
In 2017, 5% of confirmed data breaches were caused by brute force attacks. Attackers used computers to conduct these attacks, trying every combination of usernames and passwords until they hit upon one that worked for them. Luckily, brute force attacks can be stopped with real-time monitoring that detects attacks before they escalate out of control.
Instances where multiple login attempts from different IP addresses occur within a short period indicate attempts to brute force an account. You can set up systems to lock accounts after certain unsuccessful login attempts or use captchas as measures against brute force attacks; another way would be requiring users to provide two forms of authentication, like both password and token, at once to prevent further brute force attempts from taking place.
Hackers looking to guess passwords or break encryption keys quickly can leverage machine learning technologies and pre-computed tables (rainbow tables) for brute force attacks to make the brute force more efficient and reduce the time required to try billions of combinations manually. These machine learning technologies use artificial neural networks to make brute force more cost-effective.
Brute force attacks can be motivated by various goals; many criminals attempt to profit by selling stolen credentials on the dark web or employing them for spam advertising campaigns. Furthermore, brute force attacks may have devastating repercussions for websites and organizations they host if an attack leads to offensive content being posted on them.