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  • More about Encryption

Understanding the technicalities of Brute Force Attack

Your data and your privacy are essential. Now that there are so many new devices and changes in technology, it is significant to be aware of all the malicious activity taking place on these networks. Keeping a hold of your sensitive data can help and prevent you from being attacked by hackers and cyber-crimes. 

In other cases, there might also be a need to find out sensitive and critical data. In such cases, there is the technique of a brute force attack. What is a brute force attack? The brute force attack is a trial-and-error method commonly applied in cracking encryption keys and passwords to decode sensitive data. Other uses of the brute force attack also include SSH logins and API keys. How do these brute force attacks happen? These attacks are carried out by bots that attack a particular website's page. 

Pros and Cons of Brute Force Attacks:

  • The most common and extensive work of a brute force attack is decoding any password. It can be done simply, and if there is enough time, they will work without fail. A brute force attack can decode any data that is protected by a password or an encryption key. A brute force attack can be used for testing the particular system's level of security. 
  • The disadvantage of a brute force attack is that it may be slow on most occasions. It is because, to break down a password, it would have to run through every possible combination of characters before breaking. It is based on the number of characters as well. The more characters, the more combinations there are; hence it takes longer to get the password. 

A five-character password will take longer than a four-character password. There may also be instances where the character count is unlimited. In that case, getting the exact password becomes next to impossible. A long target string would lead to the brute force attack taking days, months, or even a year to get the said password. Now that there are longer passwords with added characters, brute force attacks are not strictly recommended. 

Protection against Brute Force Attacks

One of the convenient ways to protect against a brute force attack is to lockout IP Addresses that have generated a lot of login attempts. If the developers of the authorization systems bring about a slight delay in the password-checking software, it could bring down the entire brute force attack.

Another way to prevent brute force attacks is to have longer and complex passwords. Now you have the option to choose two-factor authentication where you can have a backup mail account. More importantly, using different passwords for different services can prevent brute force attacks as well. If the attacker gets through one of your passwords, they will try to get the other passwords belonging to you. This is where they will apply the concept of credential stuffing, where they use the same login details that they attacked for the other services as well. 

· Prevent yourself from entering significant passwords such as bank numbers or vault numbers in web services unless you have a strong encryption key. An encryption key refers to strings of data (bits) that are jumbled. Once this data is jumbled it will appear as-is meant only after entering the correct encryption key. Remember that encryption can be hacked through brute force attacks. However, with encryption keys, there is an unlikely chance of getting a hold of said data. 

More about Encryption

The more common and effective encryptions include 128-bit encryption and 256-bit encryption. What is the difference between the two? A longer encryption key is better and more secure than a shorter encryption key. A 128-bit encryption key would have 128x2 possible combinations, while a 256-bit encryption key would have 256x2 possible combinations. 

High-bit encryption keys can handle most brute force attacks. Most web services collect a user's information and then encrypt the data using 256-bit encryption keys because of its security. Cloudflare is currently using TLS encryption to prevent brute force attacks.

Tools for Brute Force Attacks 

  1. John the Ripper –  It is one of the efficient and favourite choices for users. This tool has been performing brute force attacks for a long time. It is free password-cracking software used to break weak passwords. A comparatively more popular tool at its helm, its features include identifying any hashtag in the password. Therefore, this tool can run a brute force attack with any password having combined texts and numbers. 
  2. Rainbow Crack – this is another popular tool for decoding passwords. In this case, during the attack, there are rainbow tables. Hence, it is the reason they are different from the other brute-forcing tools. The rainbow tables are pre-computed. Because of this, the time taken for brute force is less compared to the other tools. The tool is also available for windows and Linux. 
  3. L0phtCrack – This tool focuses more on cracking Windows passwords. It specializes in brute force attacks, hybrid attacks, rainbow tables, and dictionary attacks. The extraction from the 64-bit windows systems is one of the best features of L0phtCrack. 
  4. Ophcrack – Another brute force attack tool, this cracks Windows passwords using LM Hashes through rainbow tables. It is a tool best used to crack out passwords with less than 15 characters. 
  5. Aircrack-ng – Perhaps, it is the best and most popular tool for brute force attacks. This tool is available for free and comes with WPA/WEP cracker and tools to decode Wi-Fi passwords. Here, dictionary attacks are used against wireless networks to decode the password. The dictionary of passwords makes a difference here. The better that password dictionary, the easier it is to crack the password. 
  6. DaveGrohl – DaveGrohl is a brute-forcing tool used for Mac OS X. It supports all the versions of MAC. There are dictionary attacks as well in this tool. Here, you can perform more than one attack on the same password from different devices. It is a free tool that can be downloaded and is the best tool for MAC OS X.

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