Although a brute force attack is among the simplest attack methods, its effects are far-reaching. They achieve it by guessing the password until you get the right combination. The attacker aims to use force to access the user account. They can use automated software or scripts to achieve this and fasten the process. However, brute force attacks take along to achieve success. Therefore, an attacker needs to be patient to achieve the desired results. The consequences of this attack are dire to the victim. They can have all their data stolen by the hacker and sold online on the dark web, used for identity spoofing and other nefarious acts.
Brute Force Detection
It is easy to detect and identify brute force attacks. To prevent brute force attacks, you need to have a way of detecting them properly. Through this, you can line up various mechanisms of defense. You can identify these attacks by looking at the number of failed login attempts originating from the same IP. For you to know the number, apache access log and Linux log files are the places to look. The other way is through the increase in the load on the server between post requests influx and your site. You can monitor your site or account closely or enlist a hosting service that has a managed cloud security provider to perform the monitoring for you. Hence, take up measures to prevent brute force attacks from safeguarding your data and personal credentials.
How to prevent brute force attacks
Various methods exist to prevent or stop brute force attacks.
Among them, the most obvious is the use of a password protection policy. Every public server or web application must enforce the use of solid and sophisticated passwords. Using controls like the number of characters, combined cases, special characters, and frequent changes in passwords.
Let us consider the other method that can prevent the occurrence of a brute force attack.
Locking the account after several failed login attempts
When you perform account lockouts with progressive delays, it becomes effective to thwart any brute force attacks. However, locking a user account after several unsuccessful login attempts is not effective because it makes the server prey to DoS attacks. You can use progressive delays to lock the user account for a period after their accounts have had more than the designated number of unsuccessful login attempts. It helps prevent automated brute force attacks, rendering them unsuccessful. In addition, the administrators will not have the headache of unlocking hundreds of accounts regularly.
You have most likely encountered the “I am not a robot” message when surfing various websites. Very few people can try to make sense of something that looks like a two-year-old scribbled. Captcha is effective in blocking bots that can be used as agents of brute force attacks.
They come in various forms, such as clicking “I am not a robot’, clicking the specified images containing a specific feature, or solving a mathematical expression. However, using CAPTCHA tools can hurt the user experience.
Disabling root access via SSH
The attacker can use SSH attempts to access the root user using a brute force attack. Therefore, ensure that they cannot access the root user through SSH. To achieve this, you can edit the SSHD_CONFIG file by setting the PermitRootLogin no and DenyUsers root options. Thus, the attacker cannot also gain access to the user.
Using security questions
Attackers perform brute force attacks in repeated intervals to find the right combination swiftly. Adding security questions can act as a secondary defense in case your security is breached. It is because they cannot answer the question through mere combinations. Therefore, ensure that after several failed login attempts, the user has to answer a security question they selected during account creation. It prevents harming the user experience by routinely answering security questions.
Imposing a limitation on logins to a specified range of IP addresses
Allowing access to a server only from a designated range of IP addresses makes it more difficult for an attacker to succeed in the attempts. Hence, to overcome his obstacles, the attacker needs to work harder. It is akin to having a security perimeter surrounding your most precious data, and everyone who doesn’t come through the designated IP address is denied access.
Setting up a remote access port to a static IP can set this up. You can instead configure a VPN if you do not have a static IP address. However, this measure might not work in all cases.
Using 2-factor authentication
We consider the first line of defence against brute force attacks to be two-factor authentication. It solves and prevents brute force attacks and reduces the risk of a potential data breach. Passwords alone are not enough to stop these attacks. With two-factor authentications, the attacker would need to access your phone or email even if they crack the password for the brute force attack to succeed. The attacker might be very persistent and may even try to overcome these obstacles but it ends in disappointment.
Monitoring the server logs
Diligent monitoring of log files is a requirement if you are to prevent brute force attacks. The importance of the log files in system maintenance cannot be understated. They can help you detect brute force attempts and take up the precautions.
Using unique login URLs
The other way to prevent brute force attacks is to allocate unique login URLs to various users. While it will not stop brute force attacks, introducing the measure will make things harder for an attacker. Because of the time it takes for the attack to be successful, the attacker can even give up.
Brute force attacks have adverse effects though simple to perform and defend against. Therefore, you must take up measures to prevent them. Such measures are simple and effective when used in combination. Besides the above step, you can use a bot protection software because some brute force attacks are automated.
Forcing authentication at every login or access is a deterrent to brute force attacks. It does not, however, prevent all types of brute force attacks. If your system supports it, use two-factor authentication and make sure it’s an effective solution.