Is your business prepared to defend against a brute force attack? A successful brute force attack takes time for cybercriminals to execute. This hacking method takes a lot of computing power, but it’s relatively straightforward. In essence, a cybercriminal tries to gain access to a system by trying different combinations of either encryption keys or passwords, again and again, until it guesses right.
This can be an issue for companies because it gives criminals a straightforward way to crack into employee user accounts or compromise systems that use encryption keys. As a result, you could suffer from stolen data, sabotaged systems, and future attacks that leverage access to your network. Despite the ease with which hackers can execute brute force attacks, you have plenty of options when it comes to preventing them. We’ve outlined six tips for protecting your business from brute force attacks.
1. Install a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)
An NGFW can detect suspicious network behavior, such as multiple failed login attempts and trigger an alert or restrict access to your digital assets. Your NGFW may come with some presets that enable it to detect brute force attacks. Even if that’s the case, you can adjust your configuration settings to address the kinds of brute-force attacks and technology that you’re most concerned about.
2. Use Strong Password Management
If your passwords are long and consist of a mix of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols, they’re much harder to hack with brute force tactics. On the other hand, birthdates, anniversaries, and recycled passwords are easy targets for brute-force hackers. With some cybercriminals, a brute force attack may start off more focused, using a list of highly likely passwords. These may include those that have already been stolen. The hacker simply enters these into the computer they’re using for the attack, and it keeps trying them until one works.
3. Employ Multi-Factor Authentication
With multi-factor authentication (MFA), you can completely disarm a brute force attack — as long as the attacker doesn’t have the other identification element. This could be a token, biometrics, or a USB drive, for example. Even with multi-factor authentication, however, employees still need to follow good cyber hygiene. This would include safeguarding any portable MFA device and keeping the answers to security questions secret.
4. Limit the Number of Failed Login Attempts Your System Allows
Even if you allow as many as seven or eight login attempts, this can be enough to stop the vast majority of brute force attacks. They typically need hundreds or thousands of attempts to crack through.
But there’s no hard and fast rule, and in some cases, it may be best to combine a login attempt-limiting system with employee education around password management. For example, you can provide employees with methods of securely storing their passwords and teach some best practices for using them efficiently. Then they may not need to use as many login attempts.
5. Monitor IP Addresses 24/7
Monitoring IP addresses to check patterns of login attempts at each one can be very effective. Some monitoring systems can automatically check for suspicious activity and alert decision-makers. By working with a managed services provider that can monitor IP addresses for you, you have a partner in your corner around the clock.
6. Block Malicious IP Addresses
You can use a managed detection and response service to detect suspicious login attempts from specific IP addresses and then block all traffic coming from those sources. In this way, you can not only stop a single attack but make it harder for persistent hackers to continue trying to break through your defenses. You can also block IP addresses from certain countries, which can make it even harder for certain hackers to use brute-force attacks.
Brute force attacks can become damaging if your business isn’t properly prepared. A managed IT provider can help you prevent the attack from being successful to protect your network assets.