A brute force attack is a conventional yet effective method widely used by the threat actors wherein they use the trial and error method to guess the password of a device or account.
The term, brute force means to make excessive attempts to break into user accounts
This type of attack can highly be devastating for your website. Hence, ensure that you go for a premium and reliable web hosting service provider as they can help you safeguard your website against brute force attacks.
What is a Brute Force Attack?
A brute force attack is a cryptographic attack wherein the hacker makes aggressive attempts to decode the password.
One thing is sure the longer the passwords, more the time it will take to crack the password. On the other hand, if the password is weak, it could take only a few seconds to decode it.
Meanwhile, you can read this article on “WordPress Password Security Comprehensive Guide“.
Let’s see an example to understand how password works;
For guessing a 2 digit pin, there could be 100 possibilities max not more than that.
However, no websites use 2 digit passwords, mobile pins are comprised of at least 4 digits or characters.
The best practice is to use a minimum of 8 characters with numbers, special characters, upper and lower cases.
So if we calculate, we have 26 upper case alphabets, 26 lower case alphabets, and 10 numerical digits.
So, the total count will be 26+26+10= 62 characters.
For 8 characters long passwords, the possible combinations are 62^8 possibilities.
To crack such a long password, it will take millions of years, if even tried at 120 trillion combinations per second.
Types of Brute Force Attacks
Hackers use numerous kinds of brute force attacks. However, there is a similarity in all of the attacks i.e: the goal. All these attacks are generally used to steal passwords, sell data to third parties, spread fake content, etc.
Simple Brute Force Attacks
In this type of attack, the threat actor tries to guess passwords without using tools or any software. For instance; passwords like 12345678, password, admin, etc.
While executing a dictionary attack, the hackers use a dictionary (a file containing commonly used passwords, phrases, or special characters) against one particular username. Though these passwords aren’t brute force in nature, it’s commonly used for cracking passwords of devices or accounts.
Hybrid Brute Force Attacks
Hybrid brute force attacks are basically the combination of dictionary attacks and brute force attacks. This technique is utilized by hackers when they need to guess the password combinations having mixed characters.
Reverse Brute Force Attacks
From the name itself, you can figure out that this attacking strategy is different from others. Here, the hackers know about the passwords and look for the usernames till they succeed.
Credential Stuffing Attacks
The hackers play smart, if they get a working password and username for one site, chances are high that they forcefully try the combo on several other sites. Due to this, we highly recommend that you don’t use the same password for multiple websites.
Detecting Brute Force Attacks
Most of the hosting providers have powerful monitoring tools to track down any suspicious activity. They understand the seriousness of these attacks. So, they either block the IP address or take down the website.
Additionally, if you want to manually detect these attacks, you can either enable Two-Factor authentication (2FA) or limit login attempts in WordPress. So for every unsuccessful attempt, you will get OTP
Meanwhile, you can also read the article on “Importance of two-factor authentication“
5 Ways to Defend Your Site Against Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks are time-consuming. The time to guess the correct password ranges and depends on the number of characters used to generate a password.
Increase Length of the Password
The password length is one of the vital factors to safeguard your site against brute force attacks. The number of characters in a password is directly proportional to the time taken to crack the password.
Several security experts suggest that the length of the password should be a minimum of 8 characters.
Increase Complexity of the Password
Though the length of the password matters, however; ensure that the password you generate is a complex one. Having passwords like ‘ilikeicecream’ or ‘password1234’ is useless. Instead, you should make use of UPPERCASE and lowercase alphabets to create your password.
Limit Login Attempts
The next thing, you need to do is limit login attempts for your dashboard page. So, after some unsuccessful attempts, the threat actor can’t make any more attempts to log in as he/she is blocked from performing such action.
Also Read: How to Limit Login Attempts in WordPress?
Modify .htaccess Files to allow specific IPs
This method is the most ideal way to counter brute force attacks.
If you want to just allow specific IPs to access the login page, open your website’s .htaccess file and add the following code:
<Files /wp-login> order deny,allow allow from IP1 allow from IP2 deny from all </Files>
Add the IP addresses you want to allow in place of IP1 and IP2.
Make use of Captcha
Several websites on the internet use captcha as a defense mechanism against brute force attacks. The captcha restricts the bot from using automated scripts.
Additionally, you can use plugins that will generate captcha for your website. We suggest that you use the reCaptcha plugin for generating captcha for your website
We hope this blog post, helped you understand some of the easiest methods that can minimize the chances of a successful brute force attack.