Online security has never been more important than right now. With the amount of cyber threats and hackers lurking on the web looking to get a hold of your personal details and data, you need to take measures to keep yourself protected.
Back in April of 2020, hackers reportedly managed to steal tens of thousands of passwords from sites belonging to groups that mitigate the global pandemic. The list includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO, and the CDC, to name a few. They were all victims of sophisticated, brute force attacks.
There are ways that you can protect yourself such as using proxies from a reliable residential proxy service provider like Smartproxy and using pen testing. Let’s take a look at what brute force attacks are, how you can protect yourself and how pen testing can help.
Brute Force Attacks
A brute force attack is a systematic way to steal passwords. Some programs are programmed to guess different combinations of letters and characters until it guesses correctly. Popular and well-known brute force attack tools such as Hydra are widely and freely available to anyone that wants to download them. In the years since, brute force attacks have become more pervasive. Many companies have stepped up their defensive capabilities by blocking IP addresses that fail logins too many times.
Since then, hackers have figured out how to get past even that countermeasure. One way is using bots and launching multiple attacks from different IP addresses, effectively forcing the website to fight on many fronts at the same time, thus dividing the security and leaving gaps for malicious attacks to get through. Hackers have since realized just how easy it can be to confound a computer’s binary thinking.
Preventing brute force attacks is often easier said than done. One would think it’s easy to thwart an attack based on such a simple premise, but that thinking would be wrong. Hack attacks have become so commonplace that some sites can’t even enforce a lockout policy because of all the time they would have to spend unlocking real users’ accounts.
However, cyber defense companies have stepped up their penetration testing. That is when “white hat” hackers simulate attacks against the network that they seek to defend in order to test for vulnerabilities. Such companies would inevitably use a great residential proxy network to bolster their online security.
A residential proxy service provider will serve as the backbone for any effective pen testing program. While CAPTCHA techniques have proven effective against brute force attacks to a certain extent in the past, the scale of the attacks these days allows a myriad of ways to launch attacks. Meaning that a solid defense will entail simulated attacks that are also on a massive scale.
Why Brute Force Often Prevails
The scale and complexity of brute force attacks grow ever more. It takes an asymmetrical attitude towards defense to combat the constant threat of data theft. A defense team has to be aware of what has worked in the past to secure the future. Furthermore, a defensive team cannot relax, as threats are constantly growing, evolving and learning. As such the defensive team has to do the same.
Unfortunately, the biggest weakness of any website is the fact that many users enter easy passwords. That makes the job of the defense team all the more difficult. Some websites do not allow users to set easy passwords. The site itself rates the user’s desired password and then either accepts or rejects it based on the difficulty. However, those sites are few and far between. That is essentially why brute force attacks continue to be successful to this very day.
If there were a perfect solution to brute force attacks, they would altogether cease to exist. Adapting to the most recent hacker trends is the key to staying ahead of the bad actors on the web. Some companies program a random pause into the password mechanism of their site, effectively thwarting the mechanical thinking of a hacker tool that launches multiple attacks in rapid succession. With enough time, desire, and opportunity, hackers will eventually find a workaround to something like that if they haven’t already.
Some defense teams could attempt to block multiple password attempts from the same IP. In theory, that would make using a proxy network ideal. But there have been cases of hackers using a site’s defense mechanism to accomplish their goals anyway. Such is the case when websites get targeted by denial of service(DoS) attacks. They are the kind of hackers that want to make trouble instead of stealing information or money while they’re at it.
Whatever the method of attack, organizations that wish to defend themselves and their users constantly endeavor to change their defense strategy with the times. Whether that means hiring a cybersecurity firm or an individual specialist that would be allowed to use the company’s existing residential proxy service provider, the point is to establish a consistently effective pen testing program along with other safety measures that will evolve as necessary.
Survival of the Fittest
As threats increase and evolve, it is critical that everyone takes the necessary steps to ensure they are safe online. Here are a few useful tips that you can use to increase your security. If you are worried that you may be compromised you can use websites like haveibeenpwned.com to check your status. Also, make sure to check that you use secure passwords, never reuse them and change passwords frequently. Finally, use proxies along with your other safety measures to stay safe online.