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Brute Force Attack

Definition - What does Brute Force Attack mean?

A brute force attack is a trial-and-error method used to obtain information such as a user password or personal identification number (PIN). In a brute force attack, automated software is used to generate a large number of consecutive guesses as to the value of the desired data. Brute force attacks may be used by criminals to crack encrypted data, or by security analysts to test an organization's network security.

A brute force attack is also known as brute force cracking or simply brute force.

Techopedia explains Brute Force Attack

One example of a type of brute force attack is known as a dictionary attack, which might try all the words in a dictionary. Other forms of brute force attack might try commonly-used passwords or combinations of letters and numbers.

An attack of this nature can be time- and resource-consuming. Hence the name "brute force attack;" success is usually based on computing power and the number of combinations tried rather than an ingenious algorithm.

The following measures can be used to defend against brute force attacks:

  • Requiring users to create complex passwords
  • Limiting the number of times a user can unsuccessfully attempt to log in
  • Temporarily locking out users who exceed the specified maximum number of failed login attempts
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