What is a Brute Force Attack? How to Prevent Them?

What is a Brute Force Attack? How to Prevent Them?

Aug 22, 2021 / Kron

As digital transformation is increasingly becoming a significant actor in today's business world, companies and public institutions frequently face the threat of cyberattacks. These attacks, aiming to demand ransoms on sensitive data or negatively impact reputation, utilize various methods. For instance, as much as a cyber attacker may prefer Ransomware, Phishing, and malware attacks, they may also use a Brute Force Attack.

What is a Brute Force Attack and How Does It Work?

One of the most significant cyber security threats, the Brute Force Attack, essentially employs a trial and error method to attempt to find a hidden web site or web page, seize a password and user name, or find a key index used to encrypt a message.

Although a brute force attack is an old method within data security threats, it is still popular with hackers due to its effectiveness and low cost. In fact, the information provided by Digital Shadows supports the widely accepted opinion regarding the cost of this type of attack. According to the research, brute force attack tools cost around $4 in digital crime markets. In other words, companies and public institutions that do not have successful access security systems can suffer from data loss worth millions of dollars because of an attack tool that costs only $4.

Cyber attackers aim to gain different benefits via brute force attacks. The main goals and profits of this type of cyberattack can be listed as follows:

  • Collecting activity data
  • Making a profit by manipulating digital advertisements using the collected data
  • Stealing personal data and valuable assets
  • Disseminating malicious software in order to cause network downtime
  • Seizing control of the system or network for malicious intent
  • Harming the reputation of a website

Types of Brute Force Attacks

Each brute force attack utilizes a different method to expose sensitive data. Let us review the working principles of the most preferred methods and learn more about Brute Force Attacks.

Here are the types of brute force attacks:

  • Simple brute force attacks: With this type of attack, a cyber attacker may try to predict your personal information without the help of software or other tools such as dictionaries. This method only allows it to expose simple level passwords.
  • Dictionary attacks: Being a fundamental tool in brute force attacks, dictionaries are one of the most beneficial components for password cracking operations. In attacks utilizing standard or custom dictionaries, the hacker tries possible passwords related to the victim's username. It should be mentioned that the dictionary attacks, also known as sequential attacks, are a bit arduous.
  • Hybrid brute force attacks: A combination of a simple brute force attack and a dictionary attack, hybrid brute force attacks utilize rational guesses and external tools. This method is preferred to expose passwords that combine commonly used words with random characters.
  • Reverse brute force attacks: This method uses passwords that were leaked through recent data breaches, searching millions of user names until a match is found. In the reverse attack, contrary to the common approach, a reverse strategy is utilized to initiate attempts using a known password.
  • Recursive identity attacks: This type of attack, also known as credential stuffing attack, targets users who use the same login information in various websites. The hacker plans the attack through the company or public institution employee’s information seized prior to the attack.

Reasons for Brute Force Attacks

According to the data provided by Verizon, the most utilized form of cyberattacks in 2020, following spyware, was brute force attacks. Therefore, it is imperative to provide details on the motivations for these attacks. The reason for that is that an authorized account breach or secret websites being exposed may compromise the sensitive data owned by institutions.

  • Privileged account breach: Personal data theft and collection of activity data occur in the exploring and infiltration stages of the cyber attack lifecycle. The attackers aim to increase their privileges in the network in order to steal sensitive data. Using brute force attack methods during these stages facilitates the password breaking process.
  • Exposing secret websites: A brute force attack may provide advantageous outcomes for cyber attackers in terms of exposing secret websites. One of the major motivations for accessing the sensitive data of global institutions through authorized account access security breach is most certainly exploration. The security vulnerability utilized to infiltrate the data stored by Equifax can be given as an example for this type of motivation.

How Can You Protect Your Institution from Brute Force Attacks?

You have to establish a multi-tiered security plan in order to protect a public institution or a company against brute force attacks. The best way to do that starts by creating your own password policy using the methods below:

  • Password Policy: You should establish a password policy that blacklists simple passwords, can easily be implemented by the employees, and encourages creating strong passwords. Furthermore, you should create an online environment where all internal passwords are shared in a secure way.
  • Password Manager: Thanks to password manager solutions, it is possible for employee passwords to be stored in personalized password protected vaults, allowing you to improve institutional security. Furthermore, the application encourages the users to update weak passwords and creates unique passwords for new users.
  • Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): This feature ensures that all employees go through at least two authentication phases while accessing any corporate website or the network, and is the ideal solution for preventing unauthorized account access.
  • Privileged Access Management (PAM): Privileged Access Management is a comprehensive cyber security solution that encompasses all the features mentioned above. Advanced PAM solutions include all three of the features mentioned above to protect sensitive data.

Single Connect: The Best Method for Preventing Brute Force Attacks

Kron’s PAM solution, Single Connect, makes it easier for you to avoid brute force attacks thanks to its advanced modules. Let us review the different modules and learn more about this time-tested PAM solution:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): The MFA module is known for being compatible with the MFA method. Thanks to this Single Connect module, simultaneous time-based and location-based authentication is required from all users in the network. This prevents unauthorized access to a great extent.
  • Dynamic Password Controller: Known for preventing brute force attacks, this module ensures the control of all passwords in the network. Furthermore, having the Password Vault feature, the module stores the passwords of the users in the network in isolation and in special vaults. Therefore, the risk of unauthorized access and password sharing is lowered to a minimum.
  • Privileged Session Manager: This module allows you to control all sessions on the network, and prevents any irregularities from happening in access management, while not leaving any space vulnerable to infiltration via brute force attacks.
  • Database Access Manager: Thanks to this module you have a single point of access control regarding your databases. You can keep daily transaction logs, apply security policies for manager access, and secure data access via dynamic data masking.
  • Dynamic Data Masking: Thanks to this module logging and masking all operations of database managers on the network, it is impossible to redo the same operation. Therefore, the manager’s operations in the system are above question.

Thanks to all these modules, you can eliminate threat elements such as brute force attacks from threatening the data security of your company or institution, and secure your digital assets by implemented the full range of Single Connect’s functionality and features, ensuring end-to-end data security.

Recognized in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for PAM report, Single Connect proves itself to be one of the most prominent Privileged Access Management solutions by being acknowledged by Gartner two years in a row.

If you'd like to learn more about Single Connect and protect your company/institution with an end-to-end cyber security solution, do not hesitate to contact us.


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