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Dictionary Attack

Security breaches can affect anyone, and protecting yourself or your business can be challenging at times. But you can effortlessly stop some of them, like dictionary hacks.

Determine what a dictionary attack in cyber security is and how you can forestall it from occurring.

Dictionary Attack

Dictionary Attack Definition

It is a technique for guessing a password by systematically attempting numerous common words and their simple variants. The name of the attack derives from the fact that attackers use exhaustive lists of the most frequently employed passwords, famous pet names, fictional characters, or essentially just words from a dictionary. Additionally, they convert some letters into numerals or special characters, such as "p@ssword"

This kind of assault is used not only to gain ingress to online accounts but also to decrypt files, which is an even greater concern. The majority of people make an effort to secure their email and social media accounts. But to protect the files they share with other people, they use simple, easy-to-remember words from everyday life. If these files were sent over an insecure connection, they would be very easy to intercept, and determining the password using a dictionary attack would be simple.

Here's a strong keyword requirement:

  • Minimum of 12 characters.
  • A amalgamation of lowercase and capital letters.
  • Include at least one exceptional character, such as!, @, #, and ?
  • Minimum inclusion of one number.

Obviously, such credentials are exceptionally hard to retrieve. Consequently, such obligations are frequently unpopular among users.

How Do Dictionary Attacks Work?

In order to access a network, consideration, or encoded file, it uses an application to repeatedly try various words from a list as passwords. An assault against a dictionary can be conducted both online and offline.

A cyberattack occurs when a malicious user persistently tries to log in or acquire access under false pretenses. If the hacker has a list of likely keywords, this form of attack is more effective. If the attack takes too long, a structure supervisor or the original user may detect it.

While password-guessing attempts are limited by network latency during online attacks, offline attacks have no such constraints. It is more intricate than an online attack because hackers must obtain the password stockpile file for the network they wish to access. Once they obtain the accurate password, they will be able to log in undetected.

How Effective is a Dictionary Attack?

Its success depends on the target's strong PINs. Because feeble keywords are still prevalent, these assaults continue to be successful for cybercriminals. However, discrete users are not the only ones susceptible to inadequate keyword privacy.

Due to the fact that people frequently reuse keywords, vary their preferred passwords slightly, and don't change them after breaches, this type of attack is simple to implement and likely to succeed given sufficient time and attempts. According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 80% of hacking-related incidents involve stolen and reused identities.

According to the Balbix State of Password Use Report 2020, 99% of users reuse passwords, and the average user has eight passwords shared between work, personal, and internal company accounts.

According to the Online Password Strategies survey conducted by, nearly 70% of respondents modify current passwords when constructing new ones.

According to the 2019 State of Password and Authentication Security Behaviours Report from Yubico and Ponemon, 69% of employees trade passwords. In addition, it was discovered that slightly more than half of users do not alter their password practices following a problem.

'Password,' '12345,' and 'QWERTY' have remained at the top of released password lists for years, demonstrating that despite repeated warnings, people are content to continue using weak, easily-guessable passwords.

Common names, animals, and basic phrases such as "I love you" and "let me in" are also frequently included on such lists. Because team names frequently appear on password lists, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently published a blog urging football supporters not to use their favorite teams as passwords.

Examples Of Dictionary Attacks

Typical instances of password dictionary attack categories in the real world include:

  • A website's length and complexity requirements for passwords are insufficient. As a consequence, some users choose passwords that are extremely simple to guess, such as "abc123" or "987654," the first passwords frequently attempted in a dictionary attack. These accounts will be the first to be compromised in any attack.
  • A programmer devises a method to circumvent lockouts caused by repeated incorrect username and password attempts. Once a hacker has gained access to a website, they can use a random password generator to predict other usernames and password variations.

Dictionary Attack Vs Brute Force

The number of password permutations attempted distinguishes a brute-force attack from a dictionary attack as the primary distinction between the two.

Brute-Force Attacks

Typically, a brute-force attack will use a systematic method to attempt all possible passwords. This may require a considerable quantity of time to complete.

A five-digit combination lock serves as a non-technical illustration of the distinction. Using brute force, an assailant would try every potential combination for the five-digit combination lock. There are exactly 100,000 possible combinations for a five-digit lock with values ranging from 0 to 9.

Dictionary Attacks

In an endeavor to break into a system, it will use a list of probable credentials. Compared to brute-force attacks, these are more targeted. Instead of attempting every conceivable permutation, an attacker employing a dictionary approach would try every permutation in its designated database.

Both dynamic passcodes, such as "00000," and static passcodes, such as "12345," would be considered. If the permutation of five digits is especially unique, the dictionary attack is unlikely to predict it. Similarly, to phishing attacks, dictionary assaults wager that a sizable fraction of their intended victims will be careless enough to use a weak password or use a passcode with only five digits.

How Do I Protect Myself from A Dictionary Attack?

If you follow these guidelines, protecting yourself from dictionary password attack will be fairly uncomplicated.

  • Eliminate passwords

Removing passwords is the ONLY way to assure the prevention of password-based attacks. Find out more about password-less authentication today to guarantee the safety of your most important programs.

  • Choose a secure password generator

Password-generating features are available in browsers like Chrome and Safari. They generate passwords that are nearly impossible to hack by mixing letters, numbers, and special characters at random.

  • Avoid terms and easy-to-guess numbers

Never utilize obvious phrases or words as passwords, as well as sequences of numbers or letters (abc, 123). These passwords are specifically designed to be cracked by dictionary attacks.

  • If biometric identification is an option, use it.

Biometric identification is a simple method to increase the security of your accounts. Many mobile applications use the biometric security features of your device to enable you to log in using your face, thumb, or fingerprint. This is not as common on websites.

  • Frequently modify your passwords

The majority of security experts recommend altering your passwords every three to six months. Some websites and softwares will also require you to alter your passwords after a predetermined period of time, typically once a year.

It is simple to prevent dictionary attacks by eradicating the use of passwords.



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February 26, 2024
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