Like the previous part of the series, this blog will discuss another crucial web application attack, which is a brute force attack. Such type of attack tries all possible combinations of passwords to gain access. With a larger database of combinations, there’s a higher probability that an attacker can get hold of real credentials. The best way to stop such an attack is to set a limit on the number of attempts. Apart from that, setting complex passwords, saving passwords hash over plain strings, multi-factor authentication, dependency on captcha, and others can be very helpful. This blog will give the basic idea of how a brute force attack works.
Well, before we dive in, don’t forget to check the earlier blogs on session hijacking and injection attack.
A tedious form of web application attack – Brute force attack
A brute force is an exhaustive search-based attack that guesses possible combinations to crack a password for the targeted system or account. For longer passwords, this method consumes a lot of time as the attacker must test a large number of combinations. This could become more challenging if techniques like data obfuscation are being used. On the other hand, attackers don’t have to put so many efforts in case the target is relying on weak passwords. That is why organizations are requested to enforce a strong password policy for their password-protected platforms. The best way to understand the brute force attacks is by testing a pile of keys to find the right one. Well, these are a reliable form of attack.
Take a look at this interesting video by Jaime Manteiga, Information Security Professional and Researcher, explaining what factors make a web application an attractive entry-point for cybercriminals:
Which vulnerability can lead to a brute-force attack?
Brute force attacks start with the identification of the target. After this, the attacker uses several repetitive trial-and-error attempts to break into a website or account. As these attempts require a lot of patience, attackers use bots to carry out the operations.
How to stop a brute-force attack?
Web application developers can put up several barriers to stop brute force attacks, which includes –
- Stop exposing ways to identify valid usernames. For instance, on a failed login, many online platforms suggest that the password is wrong. Thus, confirming that an attacker has the right username.
- Send emails regularly, prompting to update the password – once per three to six months.
- Activate multi-factor authentication, which adds another security layer.
- Set a limit on the number of failed login attempts. On reaching the limit, the account should be blocked for a couple of hours or a day.
What are the skills required to combat brute-force attacks?
The in-depth knowledge of web designing and web applications is very much important for fighting against brute force attacks. The professional should be well-versed with penetration testing skills as well as client- and server-side scripting languages.
Now, when you already know about brute force attacks, let’s discuss the authentication bypass in our next blog. Under the blog, you will learn the foundational knowledge to battle against the attack and the vulnerabilities that can lead to an authentication bypass.
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