High-Risk Password Attacks and Strategies to Prevent

High-Risk Password Attacks and Strategies to Prevent

Companies often reuse the same passwords for multiple accounts or create simple passwords that include easily remembered information. This opens an easy way to hack passwords and access confidential data or accounts.  

Password attacks have been very effective and are a common way to access an organization’s data center and core information management system. Even the threat of password attacks is higher and riskier for the organization for other numerous attacks. Many users and companies still use the primary password in multiple places because they are easier to remember.

Here are high-risk password attack types, methods, and the most effective ways to reduce the risk of password attacks in organizations.

Different High-Risk Password Attacks

Password attacks are common. Hence, companies must know several risky methods and types to identify them.

Dictionary Password Attacks

Dictionary attacks occur when attackers attempt common password types systematically in common languages, words, or phrases as passwords. Attackers put them together as dictionaries and use them against the list of usernames. This attack also consists of the personal words of users, such as their place of birth, city name, and birth city. Attackers can combine techniques by taking information and creating combinations of passwords to break the same.

Quick Ways to Prevent Them:

  • Companies can limit the number of login attempts after a password failure to a minimum to avoid attacks.
  • Changing passwords regularly can help users avoid attacks and restrict similar password usage for every account.
  • Combinations of passwords can save users from facing multiple password attacks. Employ a single sign-on toll or a password manager to generate and remember strong passwords to prevent attacks.

Credential Stuffing

The credential stuffing method of password attack is when hackers know the combination of username and password, and credentials are stolen through phishing. Passwords can also leak onto an unscrupulous website. These passwords are mostly those that haven’t been changed or used for long. These password attacks are also common, and companies need to monitor their old passwords and consider changing them in a definite time interval.

Quick Ways to Prevent Them:

  • Monitor all passwords of all accounts every month. There are paid password manager services that monitor if there are any threat logins or connected to any leaks.
  • Frequent changes of passwords can keep these attacks away. Passwords unchanged for a long time are more likely to crack and hack.
  • A password manager can help restrict credential stuffing attacks by providing a strong and secure password. A password manager helps maintain multiple security layers.
  • Monitor accounts for any recent data leaks and update passwords and security schemes under them if vulnerabilities are spotted.

Keystroke Loggers

It tracks and records every keystroke on devices when users type their secret passwords. Such an attack happens when users log in while downloading software, often occurring without the user’s knowledge since it is a legitimate way to use the software but results in password leakage directly from keypads.

Keylogger tools can record everything from the device to gather personal data and user behavior, including microphones, camera footage, social media messages, texts, emails, and GPS data.

Cybercriminals can also use logging keystrokes to steal data if they have put keylogger malware on websites or apps that are in use, easily hacking bank account details, PINs, and sensitive passwords.

Quick Ways to Prevent Them:

  • Companies must allow Multi-factor authentication
  • Scanning devices with the latest antivirus software is necessary. Also, keep the software updated and devices compatible with every antivirus update, including anti-spyware and anti-keylogger protection.
  • Inspect devices regularly to ensure that no keylogger hardware is installed on computers.

Password Spraying

Password spraying attacks occur more frequently than targeting specific users, accounts, or devices. The attackers use common passwords to conduct spraying efforts. In this, attackers do not repeatedly try to log in to accounts but make many attempts over a short period. These attacks are known as the “Low and Slow” password hacking method, wherein hackers usually attack the primary system that stores other account details.

So once they get access by failing the passwords, they may have login details for different accounts or administrator permissions. Password spraying is rapidly becoming a popular method targeting users with a common password.

Quick Ways to Prevent Them:

  • Change organizational passwords regularly using guidelines to create a particular set of organizational-based and focused passwords.
  • Implement and audit incident response plans. Review and audit the plans to ensure responsive activities are specific to password-spraying attacks.
  • Configure security password settings. Ensure that organizations utilize a Security Logging Platform to identify or detect failed login attempts across all installed systems. It will also increase examination capacity by gaining visibility into failed login activities.

Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack is when attackers use automated software to guesswork correct passwords or user names by going through all possible combinations until they hit the right combination.

Hackers continuously attempt these brute-force attacks to get personal information, including usernames, passwords, and PINS. This way, they can access online accounts and post content under the user’s name to send phishing emails. They can also redirect website traffic to malicious sites, harm a website with malware or spyware, or any other nefarious software, resulting in damaging reputation activities.

A simple brute-force password attack also occurs when a hacker uses logic to guess a password through basic research of a user’s personal information. An inverse brute force attack is when attackers use a commonly created password such as ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’ and apply it against a targeted username list.

Quick Ways to Prevent Them:

  • Practice a complex username and password. Complex passwords are less likely for attackers to attack.
  • Employees’ awareness is vital to understand the importance of strong passwords and network administration. Security teams can remove unused or old accounts if they are unresponsive passwords.
  • Employ Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all login and information related to it for all accounts.
  • Enable remote access management to prevent the risk of a brute-force attack.

Also Read: Password Management for Businesses

Strategies for Reducing Password Attack Risks

Employ Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA helps build additional roadblocks for attackers to get login information, like passwords and security tokens such as fingerprints or facial recognition. While higher security devices may have fingerprints platforms or eye scans, companies can use devices with embedded two-factor authentication. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) allows security teams to have multiple layers of security, which requires complex ways to break.

Monitoring of Activities              

Since numerous activities occur in an IT environment, a password attack can easily slip through any task. That is why monitoring activity with a SIEM can detect an unusual number of login attempts, automatically inspecting the issue to the security team and allowing them to prevent or neutralize risks faster and immediately. Many SIEM solutions can automatically lock a user after many failed attempts.

Pen Test         

The best way to know whether an organization is vulnerable to password attacks is through a pen test, done using a pen testing tool.

Additionally, many credential attacks begin with attackers that have successfully stolen credentials through phishing attacks. Phishing simulations imitate malicious phishing campaigns, allowing organizations to monitor their clicks or have credentials entered. These simulations can assist in identifying employees that are vulnerable to phishing and the type of method used for phishing.

Reviewing password policies should be a continuous effort to remain agile and refine security strategies as new security techniques and technologies emerge.

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