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What are Brute Force Attacks?

A brute force attack is a trial and error method to get a login to the system or account. In this method, hackers try to guess the password. They try to guess passwords and try every combination hoping to guess correctly.

The word ‘brute force’ means they try excessive forceful attempts they try every attempt to enter your private accounts. A common threat web developers face is a password-guessing the attack is known as a brute force attack.

A brute-force attack is an attempt to discover a password by systematically trying every possible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols until you discover the one correct combination that works.

This is an old method to attack but it is a very effective and popular method to get access to private accounts. Depending on the length and complexity of the password, cracking it takes a few seconds to many years.

What different kind of Brute Force Attacks is there?

They can use different ways to uncover your personal and professional sensitive data. they can expose you in the way there is a different popular way of brute force attack:

  • Dictionary Attacks
  • Reverse Brute Force Attacks
  • Hybrid Brute Force Attacks
  • Credential Stuffing
  • Simple Brute Force Attacks
  • Rainbow table attack

1) Dictionary Attacks

In dictionary attacks, hackers use the possible passwords against that username. These are known as dictionary attacks.

some the hacker run through unabridged dictionaries and augment words with special characters and numerals or use special dictionaries of words, but this type of sequential attack is cumbersome.

In dictionary attack, they use the possible passwords dictionary attacks and they try all of the passwords to login into the system or accounts.

They use the common possible password they assume the what common to the user to use a password for example a name, date of birth or it may be its number etc. Dictionary attacks often need a large number of attempts against multiple targets.

2) Reverse Brute Force Attacks

In the brute force attack, hackers search millions of usernames until they find a match. Rather than guessing the password, it will use a generic one and try to brute force a username.

3) Hybrid Brute Force Attacks

Usually, the hybrid attack is a combination of dictionary and brute force attacks. they find out by combining the use of common words with random characters. Brute force attack uses passwords like NewYork1993, vijay1997 , etc.

4) Credential Stuffing

if a hacker has a username-password combo that works for one website, they’ll try it in tons of others as well. Since users have been known to reuse login info across many websites, they are the exclusive targets of an attack like this.

5) Simple Brute Force Attacks

Simple brute force attacks circulate inputting all possible passwords one at a time.

6) Rainbow table attack

As the name Rainbow table attacks imply these are unique they don’t target passwords in fact they target hash functions, which encrypt the credentials details like username, password, and other details.

The table is a precomputed dictionary of plain text passwords and corresponding hash values. Hackers can then see which plain text passwords produce a specific hash and expose them.

When a user enters a password, it converts into a hash value. If the hash value of the inputted password matches the stored hash value, the user authenticates. Rainbow table attacks exploit this process.

What do hackers gain from Brute Force Attacks?

Here’s how hackers benefit from brute force attacks:

  • Profiting from ads or collecting activity data
  • Stealing personal data and valuables
  • Spreading malware to cause disruptions
  • Hijacking your system for malicious activity
  • Ruining a website’s reputation

Brute force attackers have to put in a bit of effort to make these schemes pay off. While technology does make it easier, you might still question: why would someone do this?

Hackers launch brute-force attacks using widely available tools that utilize wordlists and smart rule sets to intelligently and automatically guess user passwords. Although such attacks are easy to detect, they are not so easy to prevent.

What is the solution Against Brute Force Attacks?

Brute force attacks need time to run. Some attacks can take weeks or even months to provide anything useful. Most of the defenses against brute force attacks involve increasing the time required for success beyond what is technically possible, but that is not the only defense.

There are two recommendation on the brutal force attack:

  1. Account lockouts are usually not a practical solution, but there are other tricks to deal with brute force attacks. First, since the success of the attack is dependent on time, an easy solution is to inject random pauses when checking a password.

Adding even a few seconds’ pauses can greatly slow a brute-force attack but will not bother most legitimate users as they log in to their accounts. Note that although adding a delay could slow a single-threaded attack, it is less effective if the attacker sends multiple simultaneous authentication requests.

  1. Another solution is to lock out an IP address with multiple failed logins. The problem with this solution is that you could inadvertently block large groups of users by blocking a proxy server used by an ISP or large company.

Another problem is that many tools utilize proxy lists and send only a few requests from each IP address before moving on to the next. Using widely available open proxy lists, an attacker could easily circumvent any IP blocking mechanism.

Because most sites do not block after just one failed password, an attacker can use two or three attempts per proxy. An attacker with a list of 1,000 proxies can attempt 2,000 or 3,000 passwords without being blocked.

How Can I Prevent It?

There is a precautionary measure to avoid the brutal force attack:

  1. Password Length.
  2. Limit Login Attempts.
  3. Password Complexity.
  4. Using Captcha.
  5. Modifying .htaccess file.
  6. Cloudflare.
  7. Two Factor Authentication.

1) Increase password length

For a brute force attack, there is the first and common solution to prevent attack by using longer password length. Nowadays many websites and platforms enforce their users to create a password of a certain length (8 – 16 characters).

2) Limit login attempts

Brute force attacks increment a counter of failed login attempts on most directory services – a good defense against brute force attacks is to lock out users after a few failed attempts, thus nullifying a brute force attack in progress.

In other words Simple yet very powerful action is to limit the login attempts on your WordPress admin or any other admin panel for that matter. For example, if your website receives five failed login attempts; it should block that IP for a certain period of time to stop further attempts from being made.

3) Increase password complexity

There is another solution to prevent the brute force attack, that is Increase password complexity. It is not recommended to create passwords like ‘ilovemymom’ or ‘password123’; instead, you should create a password using a combination of uppercase , lowercase, some special characters, and number also. The complexity of the password delays the cracking process.

4) Implement Captcha

Google captcha is a common system to verify that the human or robot on the website. By using this technique we can verify and prevent the brute force attack.

5) Modifying .htaccess file:

Adding a few rules in .htaccess file can further harden the security of your WordPress site. Objective is to allow access to wp-admin to only specific IP addresses listed in .htaccess file. To do so, open your .htaccess file and modify it like:

<Files /wp-login>
    order deny,allow
    allow from IP1
    allow from IP2
    deny from all

IP1 and IP2 will be the IPs you allowed access to.

6) Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a renowned service for WordPress that usually deals with CDN and caching. It also offers a protective shield against Brute Force Attacks. Through Cloudflare settings, users can set rules for accessing login pages and set Browser Integrity Check.

7) Use multi-factor authentication

Two Factor Authentication is an extra line of defence which can defend your account from Brute Force Attack. Multi-factor authentication adds a second layer of security to each login attempt that requires human intervention which can stop a brute force attack from success.

Thanks for reading…