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Brute Force Techniques and Risks
The evolution of technology brings with it newer methods of security risk! As much as technology has pushed the envelope in creating new business opportunities by connecting people, devices, and industries across the globe, it has also made the work of hackers easy. One of the common methods of hacking in recent times is brute force. In a brute force attack, the hacker guesses login information such as passwords, encryption keys by trying several million combinations. While it seems like a tedious process, the use of bots drastically reduces the time taken to crack a password. There are different types of brute-force attacks:
- Hackers can try simple attacks by guessing the password logically. This attack reveals simple passwords and PINs
- Dictionary attacks take a more targeted route as the hacker tries combinations based on username
- When hackers already have a password, they can run a reverse brute force attack to identify the username to hack into the account
- Hackers try credential stuffing brute force attacks as users reuse passwords across websites to see if one password can enter multiple accounts
MITRE ATT&CK to Decode Brute Force Techniques
In a brute force attack, the hacker uses a ‘guess-and-check’ approach by trying all combinations of characters to crack the password.
To improve the security measures of businesses against such bot attacks, MITRE ATT&CK was created in 2013. Developed by MITRE, the MITRE ATT&CK matrix is a tool designed to help build cyber defenses and perform penetration testing. The matrix helps analyze different stages in an attack life cycle. There are three components to MITRE ATT&CK:
- Tactics that describe the high-level objectives of an attack
- Techniques are the methods to achieve these goals
- Sub-techniques are the various other ways in which the goals may be achieved
Password Security Problems
The NordPass 2021 report that studied 275 million passwords revealed 200 most commonly used passwords. Despite the increasing number of internet users, little knowledge about security and password protection, has ultimately resulted in password security problems—some of the most common password security concerns are listed below:
- Password reuse – For the sake of easy remembrance, users use the same password across accounts. This practice weakens the defense against a hacker attack as they can easily infiltrate other accounts leading to a complete compromise of privacy.
- Sharing passwords offline – Writing down passwords or sending them through social media channels is one of the most prominent password security problems. Most channels do not have end-to-end encryption. This privileged information can be easily gathered if hacker gains control through malware attacks or phishing links.
- Lack of knowledge about secure passwords – It is often recommended that a password contains a minimum of 8 characters with numerals, alphabets, special characters, and both lower and upper case. However, a lack of knowledge about creating a good password can result in security problems. According to cybernews.com, some of the common passwords are qwerty123, 1q2w3e among others. While these are alphanumeric, they are the most common and easy to crack.
The internet is the hacker’s haven as user profiling with demographics or personal preferences becomes easy. With the advent of Web 2.0, this information is invaluable and can be misused to influence people’s perception of political leaders, government, social issues, and more. Some of the most common risks associated with data protection in social media include:
- Data phishing through emails or social media accounts tricks users into revealing privileged information such as credit card details, OTPs, login passwords, or other private information.
- Hackers create imposter accounts across various social media channels to gather critical information about a user, leveraging contacts to infiltrate a company’s network or even con connections for money.
- Malware hacks can cause reputation damage as hackers take control of the account through click-bait links and impersonate the user. Recently, several attacks were reported where hackers targeted sportspersons and other high-profile personalities.
Industry Best Practices
Users or organizations can build their defenses depending on the brute force attack method. Here are some of the industry best practices that minimize the success rate of a brute force attack:
- Since a brute force attack is a guessing game, locking the account after a defined number of failed attempts minimizes susceptibility to brute-force attacks. This practice also alerts the account holder, thus activating a line of defense, in almost real-time.
- Adding a time delay between two login attempts slows down the attacker. This measure can activate the security team to monitor the attempt and remedy the situation in real-time.
- Locking out an IP address after determined failed login attempts slow the attacker as they immediately lose control over the login page.
- Complex passwords make it hard to crack during such hacker attacks. Alphanumeric is considered one of the most powerful methods of building a secure password.
- Periodic security audits should be performed to determine if the system can handle such hacking attempts. These audits can include brute force site scanners that identify attacks.
- Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication (2FA, MFA) help create a good line of defense. They create layers of security and prevent attackers from pursuing the account. It is also essential to have different credentials to prevent hackers from entering from one source.
- As hackers use software bots for brute force attacks, CAPTCHA can protect the account by increasing the time to access a user account. CAPTCHA refrains the machine from entering using images, random codes, or a simple check box.
GAVS offers a Spring Security Framework that focuses on four core aspects — authentication, authorization, password storage, and servlet filters. The framework can secure applications against brute force attacks. To learn more about our cybersecurity and data privacy offerings, please visit the hyperlinks.