Brute force attack

TL;DR: An attack in which an attacker attempts to gain access to a system by systematically trying all possible passwords or keys.

A brute force attack is a method in which an attacker attempts to crack a password, encryption or key by systematically trying all possible combinations until the correct one is found. This method is based on pure computational power and perseverance, as it goes through all possible options until it is successful.

Characteristics of a brute force attack:

  1. Systematic trial and error: The attacker tries all possible character combinations in a systematic approach to find the correct password or key.
  2. High computing power: As brute force attacks have to try out a large number of combinations, they require a lot of computing power and time, especially with long and complex passwords.
  3. Automation: Attacks are usually carried out using specially developed software or scripts that automate and accelerate the process.

Types of brute force attacks:

  1. Simple brute force attacks: The attacker tries to guess a password directly by trying out all possible combinations. This is the most basic form and only works effectively with short and simple passwords.
  2. Dictionary attacks: In this method, the attacker uses a list of frequently used passwords or passwords from dictionaries. This reduces the number of attempts compared to simple brute force attacks as it targets likely passwords.
  3. Hybrid attacks: These attacks combine dictionary attacks with brute force methods. The attacker uses a dictionary list and adds to it by systematically trying out variants, such as adding numbers or special characters.

Protective measures against brute force attacks:

  1. Strong passwords: The use of long, complex passwords consisting of a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters increases the number of possible combinations and makes brute force attacks more difficult.
  2. Rate Limiting: Limiting the number of login attempts per time unit. This can be done by blocking the account after several failed attempts or by implementing delays between attempts.
  3. Captcha: The use of captchas during login attempts can slow down or stop automated brute force attacks, as they require manual interaction.
  4. Multi-factor authentication (MFA): The implementation of MFA adds an additional authentication level that makes a brute force attack much more difficult, as the attacker needs access to a second factor in addition to the password.
  5. Monitoring and alerting: Systems should be monitored to detect suspicious login attempts and notify administrators if unusual activity is detected.
  6. Password manager: Encourage the use of password managers that can create and store randomly generated, complex passwords, reducing the likelihood of weak passwords.


A brute force attack is a direct and primitive method of gaining access to protected resources. Although this method becomes less effective with increasing password length and complexity, it remains a serious threat. However, by implementing strong passwords, additional security measures such as MFA and monitoring systems, the risks of such attacks can be significantly reduced.