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What Is a Brute Force Attack?

Also known as brute force cracking, a brute force cyber attack is a rapid and aggressive digital effort to essential guess account access credentials. Typically, in these kinds of cyber attacks, hackers employ sophisticated algorithms that try different combinations of usernames and passwords until they find the ones that work. For the average Joe, it could take years of trying to get lucky enough to guess. For algorithms, it could take mere minutes to make tens of thousands of attempts, which shortens that trial time considerably. For those with simpler passcodes, the process is even simpler (and shorter). Statistics show that 5% of the confirmed data breaches in 2017 emanated from brute force attacks. Neutralizing such attacks while still in progress is seen as the best way to defend against unauthorized access. Once the hackers are in, it’s much more difficult to stop the damage. There are a number of kinds of brute force attacks at work today. Dictionary attacks are basic brute force attacks that work through a dictionary (hence the name) of possible passwords until they find the exact one that opens your account. They tend to, however, be a bit outdated since it is common practice today to create more complex passwords and change them regularly. An exhaustive key search is a kind of brute force attack that can decrypt a weak encryption in several weeks’ time. They use a moderately fast computer to try every possible combination of every character to find the one that works. All the while, the victim is unaware of the attempt. Credential recycling is a different kind of brute force attack that attempts to use (or rather reuse) account credentials (usernames and passwords) from past data breaches to try to break into other systems. For that reason it is important to never use the same password with each account you have. A reverse brute force attack is one that uses a common password like “1-2-3-4-5-6-7” and tries to brute force a username to go with it. Since the passwords are so commonly used, the technique often eventually works. Brute force attacks are a set-it-and-forget-it strategy to data breach scenarios as they operate with virtual autonomy and work continuously. It may take months, but if they are patient enough, hackers can use these techniques to access your accounts. That is why it is always important to change your passwords frequently and employ complex derivations utilizing letters, numbers and symbols in intricate combinations. If you have questions about maintaining network security or computer support for your business, contact the industry leaders at dotQ4 in Mokena, just outside of Chicago. You can reach us at 708 261 1844.

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