Brute Force Attack: What is it?
It is a simple guessing technique that can cause much damage

You may have heard the term “Brute Force Attack” before. Maybe in some news about a company’s data breach? Or from some tech geek. Brute force is a cyber hack technique that cyber criminals still use (successfully) to this day. While a brute force attack is one of the most common and oldest techniques, you need not worry about it as you can protect your data by following some simple steps.

What is a brute force attack?

In a brute force attack, cyber-criminals try to break your password, pin or encryption key by guessing it. This is known as a rapid trial and error technique. These hackers try to target an organization’s or individual accounts and try to play this guessing game to get illegal access to the password or pin protected account.

How are they implemented?

Let’s say your password or pin consists of four digits (which is the usual number) If a hacker needs to guess your pin, it’ll take 10,000 different combinations for him to try. If you’re using “0000” as your PIN, it’ll be cracked in the first combination. However, if your pin is much complex, it might cost the hacker may hours, but it is not impossible to break it. 

That is why modern-day websites employ at least 6 to 8-digits passcode. The more the numbers, the more combinations there will be and thus, the harder it will be for the cyber-criminals to guess your passcode.

Use of specialized software tools

The hackers have become smarter than ever. They’ve developed tools that can run millions of combinations in a short time. All they need to do is just sit around, run these software tools on their computers and wait for the moment when the right combination clicks. However, this only happens if you’re using a very simple password or passcode. If you’re using a combination of multiple characters, it might take the software years before it could finally crack the code.

Types of brute force attack:

These are some of the types of brute force.

Recycling previously used credentials

In this attack, the hackers gather data that has been used previously in some other brute force attacks or gained through data breaches or bought from the dark web. Once they get their hands on your data:

  • They filter the relevant data from it
  • Use it on multiple mediums (social media, bank, workplace)
  • Try to break into your account by guessing the password.

Attack using dictionary

We humans are ought to use the words as our passwords which we find easy to remember. Many people end up using “cat,” “dog,” or “boat” or similar words in their passwords. Similarly, we often use our date of birth as our passwords. In a dictionary attack, the hackers use commonly used words from a dictionary and try to break the accounts.

Brute force attack in-reverse

As the name suggests, this attack is accomplished by using the brute force technique in reverse. In this reverse brute force technique, the hacker takes a common or mainstream password, alter its characters to make various combinations and try it on different individuals accounts. 

So, how can you protect yourself against brute force attack?

It not only comes down to you but to the websites, you visit as well to incorporate cyber safety measures in their practices. For example, if they think someone is trying to log-in multiple times, they can lock the account temporarily. Or they can use encrypted passwords or other measures to disappoint these cybercriminals. While you can’t control the website’s cybersecurity, you sure can protect yourself by following on some simple tips such as:

  • Using a two-factor authorization: When a 2-factor authorization is enabled, the hacker will need access to your device (smartphone, tab) to access your account.
  • Change your passwords in a while: Always save these new passwords somewhere safe.
  • Never reuse the same passwords: If you’re using the same password on multiple mediums and one of your accounts gets hacked; the hacker will try to use that same password on your other accounts as well.
  • Use a difficult password: Don’t think about the moment. While a simple password is easier to remember, it is altogether more prone to being cracked. Use a difficult and complex password and save it somewhere safe so you can see it when you need it.