Rethinking Passwords in the ‘Brute Force’ Age

Here’s a discomfiting thought: Experts say that even if you create a solid password with numerals and special characters, it can be cracked in eight hours.


For many years, you’ve been repeatedly told that as long as your password is eight characters long, with upper- and lowercase characters, at least one numeral, and at least one special character, you were in pretty good shape.

Not anymore
Blame the ever-growing power of computers; they now have the speed to use brute force to crack not only dictionary words (more on that below), but sophisticated password combos.

Various types

There are several types of brute force attacks, the most well-known being the dictionary attack. This attack uses a list of common words, either from the dictionary (of course) or a list of common user passwords, and tries them as potential passwords.

Another variant is the reverse brute force attack, in which threat actors try a common group of passwords or individual passwords against a list of possible usernames.

Credential stuffing uses a username and password combination that is already known (usually because it was previously stolen) by the attacker. This type of attack is skyrocketing and should not be taken lightly.

Using programs that scour the dark web for email addresses, usernames, and passwords, credential stuffing is an easy way for threat actors to access business networks.

What you can do

It’s tempting to throw up your hands at this point—you’ve been trying to create strong passwords, but now it seems they’re not good enough.

The solution, experts say, probably lies in a digital password manager. These tools, easily available, create extremely long passwords for you—and remember them, so you don’t have to. All you need to do is create one very long, very strong password for the manager itself.

© National Security Institute, Inc.


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