How to Keep Your Website Secure Against Brute Force Attacks
Article by Miguel Santico
Graphics Design by Kirsten Tumbokon
The internet and its growth over the years have led to a new avenue for a crime. Cybercrime is so rampant that in the UK, it accounts for over 50% of criminal activity. According to the University of Maryland, computers and networks are attacked at least once every 39 seconds. Another statistic from Imperva’s 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report states that 78% of the organizations that were surveyed were affected by a successful cyberattack in 2018.
With a threat as constant and persistent as cyber-attacks, website security is an absolute must.
One of the most common kinds of cyber attacks is the brute force attack, which was said by SC magazine, a cyber-security source, to have increased by 400% in 2017. This alarming number makes brute force attacks one of the top priority cybercrimes to be wary of.
This article tackles what a brute force attack is, why it’s important to know what it is, how it happens, and how to prevent it from happening to your website.
What is a Brute Force Attack?
A brute force attack is the simplest method to gain access to a website, server, or anything password protected. This is a method where hackers make repetitive successive attempts of trying various password combinations to try and break into a website. It is a trial and error hacking approach.
According to Techopedia, the reason behind the term brute force attack is the amount of effort and resources that go into this method. It takes time, force, and tools to properly launch a brute force attack.
Trying to hack into a friend’s Facebook account by guessing his password, for example, can be considered a brute force attack.
How Brute Force Attack Happens
Although it is the simplest hacking method, it is not something that can be done by just anyone.
Since most websites or servers require passwords that are at least eight characters long, there are enough password combinations to make the hacking process last longer than a lifetime. So although it is the simplest hacking method, it still takes knowledge and skill to execute.
Hackers make use of computers and supercomputers to write code and can develop powerful computing engines via software that function as password breaking or cracking programs. These programs and engines are what make it possible to make a successful brute force attack.
Computers can reduce hacking time significantly, but the process would still take longer than a lifetime. With supercomputers though, brute force attacks can happen within a minute.
In light of the fact that hackers invest time, effort and resources into brute force attacks and that they happen on a daily basis, it is important to take the necessary precautions that can help prevent these attacks from happening to your website. Below are 7 things you can and should do to protect your website from brute force attacks.
7 Ways to Prevent Brute Force Attacks
1. Lengthen Your Password
There’s a reason why most websites require you to come up with a password that is at least 8 characters long. Compared to a password that is just 5 or 6 characters long, the number of possible combinations with an 8-character long password is naturally greater.
This makes the process of brute force attacks harder and more time consuming, making it more difficult for hackers to become successful in their attempt to break into your website.
The longer the password, the better.
2. Increase Password Complexity
Having a lengthy password, however, isn’t an end-all solution. A password might be long, but if it is as simple as ‘password1234,’ then it is more likely for hackers to be able to break into a website. Of course, this is a terrible example, but the fact is that there are still people out there who use passwords as predictable and lazy as that.
To create a more complex password, be sure to make use of both lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. This delays the hacking process and makes it more difficult because the characters you use are not typical and obvious.
3. Limit Login Attempts
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent brute force attacks from happening to your website. It prohibits hackers from being able to make an infinite amount of attempts, disabling them from even having the chance to hack into your website.
After a certain amount of failed login attempts, your website should block the IP address that made those attempts. This puts hackers in cuffs because although they might have the tools to break into your website, they will no longer have the opportunity to use those tools.
4. Limit Access
Even more effective is giving website access to only those who you trust or work with. By not allowing hackers to make a single attempt at logging into your website, it cuts them off at the start.
This can be done by modifying the .htacess file in your WordPress site. The purpose is to allow only certain IP addresses to have access to wp-admin, meaning only those you choose to allow to log in to the website can do so.
5. Make Use of Captcha
We have all experienced Captcha while trying to access a website. It might be a little troublesome for those who are trying to log in or gain access, but that’s exactly what website owners installed it for.
The reason that we have to prove through Captcha that we really are human and not robots is that the purpose of Captcha is to prevent bots from executing automated scripts mainly used in brute force attacks.
6. Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication provides an additional layer of defence behind passwords. These are the personal questions that come up after entering the correct username and password like, ‘What was the name of your first pet?’
This is a great weapon to arm your website with to fight against brute force attacks because although hackers might have the tools to crack your password, it is almost impossible for them to correctly guess something that is personal to you.
7. Engage a Professional Web Development Agency
Web development agencies are greatly aware and familiar with brute force attacks and malware in general. With experience and knowledge in anything web, they are experts in identifying, preventing and managing brute force attacks and more.
Investing in the security advice and solutions that a professional web development agency can offer will result in the safety of your website and its thriving.
How Verz Can Help You Against Brute Force Attacks
With 10 years of web experience, Verz Design is more than capable of dealing with brute force attacks – we are professionals.
With Verz vSecure, you can rest assured that your website is protected 24/7 by top-notch security. It is a strong wall of defence against malware threats and specifically, brute force attacks. We consider ourselves experts in dealing with malware and guarantee only the best defence against brute force attacks.