Brute-force attacks involve account hacking attempts. This can include cybercriminals guessing common passwords or capitalizing on stolen or leaked legitimate credentials. These cyber-attacks should not be taken lightly and stringent steps need to be taken to avoid brute force attacks. Bad guys use scripts and bots to attack the login pages of many websites and web apps. These attacks can also be used for other malicious purposes.
In this article, we will cover the following topics
What is a Bruteforce attack?
A brute-force attack is one of the most basic and straightforward hacking techniques. Brute force attacks, as the name suggests, are not subtle. This attack works on the principle that you can guess passwords after infinite attempts.
An attacker attempts to control a user account by guessing the username/email address and password. The attacker usually aims to gain access to a user account to carry out a large-scale attack on the system, steal sensitive data, or combine the two.
It doesn’t require much imagination or knowledge to create code that executes such an attack. There are even readily available automated tools that submit many thousand password attempts per second.
What are the goals of a Brute-force attack?
The goals of brute force attacks vary from one person to the next. These are the five most common goals for brute force attacks:
- Take your personal data.
- Credential stuffing using your credentials.
- Use your personal information for phishing.
- Damage your company’s reputation.
- Compromise your website(s).
Hackers can use all of these goals to cause as much damage and as many as they want. It is difficult for businesses to recover from breaches, with 60% of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) closing down within six months.
Brute force attacks have a positive side. Companies test the security of the network and verify that encryption is being used. A bank network, for example, must be as secure as possible. To prevent money or data theft, they will constantly test their security.
How to Recognize a Brute-force Attack?
Brute force attacks are identified by multiple failed login attempts from the same IP address or increased load on your server due to an influx in post requests. A managed cloud provider can handle monitoring for your site. You should ensure that your support includes proactive monitoring to protect your site.
What are the types of Brute-force attacks?
Simple Brute Force Attack
A brute force attack is a simple way hackers can crack your password without any scripts or automation. This attack can decrypt weak passwords and PINs in seconds.
This is a brute force attack in which a hacker attempts to crack a victim’s password using all combinations possible against their username. This attack can also use random words from the dictionary with special characters or numerals.
People often use a combination number of significant numbers, such as birth date or anniversary date, and words to create their passwords. The hybrid attack is a combination of a dictionary attack and a brute force attack. It attempts to guess the above-mentioned mixed login combination.
Cybercriminals use stolen credentials to trade and sell them on the dark internet. Threat actors use these stolen login combinations to log in to user accounts on many websites until they find one that works.
Reverse Brute Force Attack
Reverse brute force attacks start with a public-known or stolen password. The hacker then uses automation to search the internet for a matching username, number, key, or combination.
8 Tips to avoid Brute-force attacks
1) Always Store SALTED Password Hashes on Servers.
Companies actively avoid the practice of storing plaintext passwords on public-facing servers, as this is a severe security risk. Organizations store the password hashes of users on their servers. This allows them to use password digests to verify their password entries backend during authentication without knowing their plaintext passwords. This is still not secure enough, and it requires an additional step that involves salt. Let’s discuss why.
Users log in to their accounts, and the passwords they enter are processed by a one-way pseudorandom function (i.e., a hash). Their hash values are then compared against the organization’s stored hash digests. If the results match, the organization is sure that the user has entered the correct password. If they do not match, authentication fails, and the user is notified with an error message.
Companies make the mistake of storing encrypted passwords and unsalted password hashes on public-facing servers. Plaintext passwords can still be at risk, even if they are encrypted or simply hashed (unsalted).
You could lose or be hacked if you make a mistake in configuring the database.
- Your encrypted data will no longer be protected if bad guys gain access to your decryption keys. They can decrypt the passwords of customers and view the plaintext values using that key.
- Cybercriminals can’t reverse hash digests because they are too expensive (both in terms of time and resources). However, bad guys do have another option. They can also use password cracking techniques, such as rainbow table attacks, to match unsalted password hashes with known password hashes. This can be used to help them find the original password.
It is best to store salt password hashes instead. A salt is a unique, random value that you add to your password before hashing it. This creates a unique hash number. This means that even though two users may use the same passwords, their unique salt values will alter each hash input individually, resulting in unique password hashes.
2) Limit logins to a specified IP address or range
If access is restricted to a specific IP address or range. Brute force attackers must work hard to overcome this obstacle and gain access.
It’s like putting a security fence around your most valuable data. Anyone who doesn’t originate from the correct IP address is denied access.
This can be done by setting up a remote access port to a static address. You can also configure a VPN if you don’t already have a static IP. Keep in mind, though, that this might not work for all use cases.
3) Use Multi-Factor or Two-Factor Authentication (MFA or 2FA)
Multi-factor and two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security to your accounts. 2FA requires that a user validate their identity before they can log in to an account. If 2FA is enabled, for example, you will be asked to verify that you are the one trying to log in to your email. To gain access to your account, you will need to enter a unique code that was sent to your mobile number or an authenticator app to verify your identity.
4) Use CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to distinguish Computers and Humans Apart.” They are used by websites to limit spam and bot usage. CAPTCHAs are problems that can be difficult for computer programs to solve but are simple for humans—for example, clicking in a particular area of a webpage or spotting patterns.
5) Take Advantage of Network Security and Threat Detection Tools.
A web application firewall (WAF) is a powerful tool that can detect and stop credential-stuffing attacks. It is not perfect, and it can be ineffective against botnet-based brute force attacks that involve multiple attackers with unique IP addresses. You should also consider other forms of protection.
Although intrusion detection systems (IDSs) can help you identify and report security incidents in your network and exploits, they have their limitations. These issues can’t be prevented or dealt with by IDS. You need another set of tools. SIEM software, which is security information and event management (SIEM), allows you to identify, analyze and respond in real-time to threats quickly. SIEM will enable you to see brute force attacks as they happen so that you can take action to stop them.
We understand that the tools and the expertise required to operate them can be pretty expensive for small in-house operations. A managed security service provider might be an option.
6) Limit Login Attempts
Many websites allow unlimited login attempts by default, especially WordPress sites. To prevent brute force attacks, website administrators can use a plugin to limit the number of login attempts on their site. You can set the number of logins that you wish your visitors to have with such plugins. Their IP addresses will be blocked from your site for a significant amount of time if they attempt more than the allowed number of times.
7) Use Strong Passwords
Using strong passwords will make it more difficult to break into your account. An extra letter symbol at your end would make your password even more secure than the current one. You can use a combination of alphabets, numbers, capitalization, and special characters for each password. Passphrases are a group of words that are arranged together. Take advantage of a Password manager to help you manage all your passwords.
8) Monitor Server Logs
Always review your log files. Log files are crucial for maintaining a system.
Log management software can be used to perform daily checks and generate daily reports automatically.
Brute force attacks are not new, and they won’t be going away anytime soon. Cyber threats change constantly, so your defenses must adapt to keep up with them.
Cybercriminals are well aware that no technology is perfect and will continue to seek out new ways to bypass your security systems. You should take proactive steps to improve and update your cyber defenses in order to combat these malicious attempts. These brute force attack prevention methods can help you make your company more secure.
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