Cybersecurity is more important than ever before. With billions of users making payments or interacting with software platforms every day, it’s vitally important to ensure that the highest standards of safety are kept.
Along with educating users about the risks of social engineering or poor password hygiene, it is essential that your business is able to withstand a range of attacks – including brute force intrusions - one of the most unsophisticated but devastating breach methods.
So, what is a brute force attack and why is it so essential to protect yourself from them?
Simply put, a brute force attack involves multiple attempts to guess a password.
If done by a human, this would result in tens of entries per minute, but when automation is deployed, a computer is able to continuously keep guessing until it cracks the access code. This deploys tireless trial and error attempts and is one of the oldest tricks in the book. While it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as some other methods, it can still be highly effective – especially when augmented by additional information.
Brute force attacks allow possible hackers to repeatedly try to access a system in irregular windows for extremely long periods of time – with some groups attempting to gain entry over periods of months and even years!
A brute force hack is used by deploying one of the many online tools available to groups or individual hackers. The potential intruder chooses their preferred tool and deploys it to break into your online infrastructure. If successful, the individual will be able to gain access to your system and - once inside – will be able to make any changes or adjustments that they need.
While there are more effective or sophisticated hacking methods available, the deployment of a brute force attack is very proficient at cracking simple, short passwords – often resulting in entry and subsequent damage before it can be reacted to.
At best, the intruder will cause minimal damage and the event can be used to legitimise internal training. At worst, it can result in untold destruction as the hacker gains access to the system. This can lead to real world fallout in the form of reputational harm, data or financial loss for customers, or subsequent lawsuits and sector specific issues.
Even the best security protocol can become subject to a brute force attack, but there are generally two main culprits: system users with weak passwords and administrators that fail to put in place fit-for-purpose defences.
For members of staff, it’s important to deploy best-practice password protection. This means using complex alphanumeric codes and, ideally, tying them to a unique access key. At a minimum that should involve different passwords for each user account, avoiding personal information, and regularly changing the password to prevent leaks becoming an advantage.
When it comes to administrators, it is potentially worth considering a lockout protocol for repeated incorrect attempts or adding a progressive delay for each password entry. It’s also worth considering two-factor identification or other more aggressive solutions – though these may be unpalatable for your business depending on your use-case.
For many, the simplest way to protect your data is by implementing a software-based solution that enables the following:
This is a safe, centralised set of login credentials that can be used on a range of set platforms. This can help increase productivity and security, reducing the need for multiple passwords and putting in place a strong, fit-for-purpose, and secure password protocol. This also makes the process easier for administrators who may struggle to deal with multiple user accounts.
This allows clients and employees to authenticate themselves by using a social media account. This prevents the creation of a new ID and – provided the account is also securely protected – can be effective in providing another layer of control.
For a more comprehensive solution, the deployment of additional multifactor authentication protocols (sometimes called 2FA) is recommended. These can be added to provide an additional layer of control and protection against brute force attacks while also ensuring there are no obstacles preventing your employees or clients from accessing their information. This can also help protect against other intrusion methods such as phishing and even involve a tangible, real world element such as key fob or Near Field Communication (NFC) tag to make it harder to crack.
For complex networks or larger institutions, supporting Identity Federation, (wherein one login system effectively trusts another login system for the authentication of the end user) allows you a greater deal of control when it comes to managing your system users, particularly for larger enterprises. Typically favoured by many a CISO, federated identity ensures that user login details are stored centrally within a trusted network of connected systems. This allows your end users to access multiple systems across a range of platforms or ‘enterprises’ using only one user identity.
At 10Duke, our flexible platform allows for a variety of solutions to issues surrounding password protection, including all four methods mentioned in this article to protect against brute force attacks. Our solutions allow you to deploy clean and effective simple sign-in protocols for clients and customers – letting you have full control over how you deploy your customer identity management in a way that addresses your unique needs.
Unlike other providers, we understand that providing a contextualised solution is important. That’s why we work closely with our clients to tailor a solution that is right for them and doesn’t cause additional issues or complications for their teams and customers.
If you want to learn more about protecting your business and online assets through authentication, our team at 10Duke are here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we’re happy to work with you to optimise your security infrastructure and provide a bespoke solution that truly works for you.