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 the digital transformation is increasingly becoming a significant actor in today's business world, the companies and public institutions frequently face the threat of cyberattacks. The attacks aiming to demand ransom on sensitive data or cause loss of reputation utilize various methods. For instance, as much as a cyber attacker may prefer Ransomware, Phishing and malware attacks; they may also use a different method by planning 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 is, essentially, utilizing 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 for 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 in this context and learn more about a Brute Force Attack.

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 a software or other tools such as dictionaries. The method in question only allows 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 user name. 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. The method in question is preferred in order to expose passwords that combine commonly used words with random characters.
  • Reverse brute force attacks: In this method where passwords are leaked through recent data breaches, millions of user names are searched until a match is found. In the reverse attack, contrary to the common approach, a reverse strategy is utilized starting trials from a known password.
  • Recursive identity attacks: This type of attack, also known as credential stuffing attack, targets the users who use the same login information in various websites. The hacker plans the attack through the company or public institution employee that were 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 the attacks mentioned above. The reason why is that the situations such as 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 chain. 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; you can find the other 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 the password manager solutions, which makes it possible for employee passwords to be stored in personalized password protected vaults, you can improve institutional security. Furthermore, the application encourages the users to update weak passwords and creates unique passwords for new users.
  • Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): The system, which ensures that all employees go through at least two factor authentication phases while accessing any corporate website or the network, is the ideal solution for preventing unauthorized account access.
  • Privileged Access Management (PAM): Privileged Access Management is a comprehensive cyber security solution that encompasses the suggestions mentioned above. The different modules in PAM include all three methods to protect sensitive data.

Single Connect: The Best Method for Preventing Brute Force Attacks

As Kron, our PAM product Single Connect makes it easier for you to avoid brute force attacks thanks to its modules. Let us review the modules and learn more about the above-mentioned solutions:

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): 2FA module is known for being compatible with the MFA system. Thanks to this module provided by Single Connect, the company/institution requests simultaneous time-based and location-based authentication from all its 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 sharing is lowered to a minimum.
  • Privileged Session Manager: Indicating a general solution, the module allows you to control all sessions on the network. The session manager, which prevents any kind of trouble that can happen in access management, does not leave any space vulnerable to infiltration via brute force attacks.
  • Database Access Manager: Thanks to the module, which allows the single point access control regarding the database, you can keep daily transaction logs, apply security policies for manager access and secure data access via masking.
  • Dynamic Data Masking: Thanks to the module logging and masking all operations of the database managers on the network, it is impossible to redo the same operation. Therefore, the manager operations in the system is completely free from any doubt.

Thanks to all these modules, you can remove all elements, such as brute force attacks that threaten the data security of companies and institutions, and secure the digital assets of your company by utilizing the solution range of Single Connect, which offers end to end data security.

Recognized in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for PAM report as well, Single Connect proves itself to be one of the most prominent Privileged Access Management software by being acknowledged in the Gartner Magic Quadrant report 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, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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