There are various attacks that attackers use to validate the credentials they get from different sources. They can get them from the dark web, buying them, or exploiting databases. They can do this through credential stuffing and brute force attacks to achieve the goal above.
What Is Brute Force Attack?
This is a hacking method where the attacker uses trial and error to crack the login credentials, passwords, and encryption keys. It is a reliable technique for an individual to gain unauthorized access to accounts that belong to a person or an organization.
The attacker tries multiple passwords and usernames to test several combinations using a computer until they find the correct credential. We refer to it as a brute force because the attacker uses many forceful attempts to access a victim’s accounts. It is a tried and tested attack method, and it remains popular within hacker circles.
Types Of Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks exist in various types. It gives the attackers a range of methods for gaining unauthorized access and stealing data from their victims.
1. Dictionary Attacks
Dictionary attacks are basic brute force attacks in which an attacker selects a target and tests a set of passwords against the associated usernames. Although we cannot technically consider the method a brute force attack, it plays a crucial role in credential cracking.
It is termed dictionary attackers go through a dictionary while amending the words with numbers and special characters. Therefore, it is time-consuming and has low chances of success compared to more effective and modern attack methods.
2. Simple Brute Force Attacks
In this brute force attack, the attacker guesses the usernames and passwords without using any software. They use various combinations like name and date of birth or something an attacker knows about the victim.
They also attempt using default passwords. For this reason, it is advisable to change an appliance’s password when you purchase one. Because some people still use combinations like “password123” or “0000”, this type of brute force attack is simple to carry out when you get the right combination of username and password. People’s other poor password etiquette is having the same password and user names in multiple websites or applications. With just minimal reconnaissance, the attacker can guess the password a victim uses. It may be the name of your favorite football player, sports team, or even girlfriend.
3. Reverse Brute Force Attack
Here, the attacker knows the password that they may discover through breaching the network. The attacker uses the password to search login credentials that match the password by use of many usernames. The attacker can also use the passwords that people commonly use to comb through the database, searching for a matching username.
4. Hybrid Brute Force Attacks
When dictionary attacks and simple brute force attacks are combined, you get a hybrid of the two. In this type of brute force attack, the hacker first knows the username and carries out a simple brute force and dictionary attack to get the account login credentials.
The malicious actor uses a list of potential passwords then uses letters, characters, and numeric combinations to find the correct password. Therefore, the attacker can discover passwords combining popular or common words with years, numbers, and other random characters. This process can take time to test the combinations, but it has been tried and tested to give the results.
Motivations Behind Brute Force Attacks
As we can see, there are many types of brute force attacks. Therefore, it leaves one Wondering what motivates the hacker to go to all those lengths? Using the brute force method requires much patience. To crack an encryption key or a password can take the attacker quite some time, up to weeks or months. However, on successful completion, the rewards are enormous. Let us consider the motivations behind brute force attacks.
1. To Spread Malware
Often, brute force attacks are not personal. The malicious actor may go to all those lengths to showcase their skills and wreak havoc. Hackers accomplish this by sending emails, SMS, spoofed websites to conceal malware, and redirecting visitors of a website to a malicious site.
By infecting the victim’s computer with various malware, the malicious actor can find a way into the connected systems and networks. They can then launch coordinated and wider attacks against the organizations.
2. Stealing Personal Data
When a hacker breaks into a personal account that belongs to a victim, they can find lots of data. This invaluable data can range from medical information, financial information, and insurance data. Therefore, the attacker can spoof their identity, sell the victim’s data to a third party, rob them of their money, or launch more comprehensive attacks using that information.
The hacker can also steal the login credentials through corporate data breaches. Here, the attacker gains access to sensitive information and patent information they can sell for profit to a corporation’s competitor.
3. Financial Motives
The other reason that motivates attackers to go such lengths is money. By launching a brute force attack on a website, the attacker makes a financial profit through advertising commissions. The common methods for achieving this include:
- Using malware that tracks the visitor’s activities to infect a website. The hacker then sells the collected data to the advertisers without the consent of the user.
- Redirecting traffic from a legit website to an illegal commissioned ad website.
- The attacker can also place spam ads on a website that they can use to make money whenever a visitor clicks or views an advert.
4. Ruining a Company’s Brand Reputation
Brute force attacks can also be used to tarnish the company’s brand reputation. Hackers often target websites for attacks and use offensive graphics and text to infect them. This denigrates the brand reputation, and the organisation can end up putting the website down.
While brute force attacks also can be used to steal money from a company, ruining the brand reputation is worse. Building a brand is an uphill task that an attacker can destroy in a day
Attackers can go to any length to obtain information that they can benefit from either directly or indirectly. They can use tedious and lengthy methods like brute force attacks to obtain the information they can leverage or sell to profit. There are other various motivations like grudges or show offs that guide the attacker.