The brute force attack is still one of the most popular password-cracking methods. Nevertheless, it is not just for password cracking. Brute force attacks can also be used to discover hidden pages and content in a web application. This attack is basically “a hit and try” until you succeed. This attack sometimes takes longer, but its success rate is higher.
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In this article, I will try to explain brute force attacks and popular tools used in different scenarios for performing brute force attacks to get desired results.
A brute force attack when an attacker uses a set of predefined values to attack a target and analyze the response until he succeeds. Success depends on the set of predefined values. If it is larger, it will take more time, but there is a better probability of success.
The most common and easiest to understand example of the brute force attack is the dictionary attack to crack passwords. In this, the attacker uses a password dictionary that contains millions of words that can be used as a password. The attacker tries these passwords one by one for authentication. If this dictionary contains the correct password, the attacker will succeed.
In a traditional brute force attack, the attacker just tries the combination of letters and numbers to generate a password sequentially. However, this traditional technique will take longer when the password is long enough. These attacks can take several minutes to several hours or several years, depending on the system used and length of password.
To prevent password cracking from brute force attacks, one should always use long and complex passwords. This makes it hard for attackers to guess the password, and brute force attacks will take too much time. Account lockout is another way to prevent the attacker from performing brute force attacks on web applications. However, for offline software, things are not as easy to secure.
Similarly, for discovering hidden pages, the attacker tries to guess the name of the page, sends requests and sees the response. If the page does not exist, it will show a 404 response; on a success, the response will be 200. In this way, it can find hidden pages on any website.
Brute force is also used to crack the hash and guess a password from a given hash. In this, the hash is generated from random passwords and then this hash is matched with a target hash until the attacker finds the correct one. Therefore, the higher the type of encryption (64-bit, 128-bit or 256-bit encryption) used to encrypt the password, the longer it can take to break.
A reverse brute force attack is another term that is associated with password cracking. It takes a reverse approach in password cracking. In this, the attacker tries one password against multiple usernames. Imagine if you know a password but do not have any idea of the usernames. In this case, you can try the same password and guess the different usernames until you find the working combination.
Now, you know that a brute-forcing attack is mainly used for password cracking. You can use it in any software, any website or any protocol which does not block requests after a few invalid trials. In this post, I am going to add a few brute force password-cracking tools for different protocols.
I am sure you already know about the Aircrack-ng tool. This is a popular brute force wifi password cracking tool available for free. I also mentioned this tool in our older post on most popular password-cracking tools. This tool comes with WEP/WPA/WPA2-PSK cracker and analysis tools to perform attacks on Wi-Fi 802.11. Aircrack-ng can be used for any NIC which supports raw monitoring mode.
It basically performs dictionary attacks against a wireless network to guess the password. As you already know, the success of the attack depends on the dictionary of passwords. The better and more effective the password dictionary is, the more likely it is that it will crack the password.
It is available for Windows and Linux platforms. It has also been ported to run on iOS and Android platforms. You can try it on given platforms to see how this tool can be used for brute force wifi password cracking.
Download Aircrack-ng here.
John the Ripper is another awesome tool that does not need any introduction. It has been a favorite choice for performing brute force attacks for a long time. This free password-cracking software was initially developed for Unix systems. Later, developers released it for various other platforms. Now, it supports fifteen different platforms including Unix, Windows, DOS, BeOS and OpenVMS.
You can use this either to identify weak passwords or to crack passwords for breaking authentication.
This tool is very popular and combines various password-cracking features. It can automatically detect the type of hashing used in a password. Therefore, you can also run it against encrypted password storage.
Basically, it can perform brute force attacks with all possible passwords by combining text and numbers. However, you can also use it with a dictionary of passwords to perform dictionary attacks.
Download John the Ripper here.
Rainbow Crack is also a popular brute-forcing tool used for password cracking. It generates rainbow tables for using while performing the attack. In this way, it is different from other conventional brute-forcing tools. Rainbow tables are pre-computed. It helps in reducing the time in performing the attack.
The good thing is that there are various organizations which have already published the pre-computer rainbow tables for all internet users. To save time, you can download those rainbow tables and use them in your attacks.
This tool is still in active development. It is available for both Windows and Linux and supports all latest versions of these platforms.
Download Rainbow Crack and read more about this tool here.
L0phtCrack is known for its ability to crack Windows passwords. It uses dictionary attacks, brute force attacks, hybrid attacks and rainbow tables. The most notable features of L0phtcrack are scheduling, hash extraction from 64-bit Windows versions, multiprocessor algorithms and network monitoring and decoding. If you want to crack the password of a Windows system, you can try this tool.
Download L0phtCrack here.
Ophcrack is another brute-forcing tool specially used for cracking Windows passwords. It cracks Windows passwords by using LM hashes through rainbow tables. It is a free and open-source tool.
In most cases, it can crack a Windows password in a few minutes. By default, Ophcrack comes with rainbow tables to crack passwords of less than 14 characters which contain only alphanumeric characters. Other rainbow tables are also available to download.
Ophcrack is also available as LiveCD.
Download Ophcrack here.
Hashcat claims to be the fastest CPU-based password cracking tool. It is free and comes for Linux, Windows and Mac OS platforms. Hashcat supports various hashing algorithms including LM Hashes, MD4, MD5, SHA-family, Unix Crypt formats, MySQL and Cisco PIX. It supports various attacks including brute force attacks, combinator attacks, dictionary attacks, fingerprint attacks, hybrid attacks, mask attacks, permutation attack, rule-based attacks, table-lookup attacks and toggle-case attacks.
Download Hashcat here.
DaveGrohl is a popular brute-forcing tool for Mac OS X. It supports all available versions of Mac OS X. This tool supports both dictionary attacks and incremental attacks. It also has a distributed mode that lets you perform attacks from multiple computers to attack on the same password hash.
This tool is now open-source and you can download the source code.
Download DaveGrohl here.
Ncrack is also a popular password-cracking tool for cracking network authentications. It supports various protocols including RDP, SSH, HTTP(S), SMB, POP3(S), VNC, FTP and Telnet. It can perform different attacks including brute-forcing attacks. It supports various platforms including Linux, BSD, Windows and Mac OS X.
Download Ncrack here.
THC Hydra is known for its ability to crack passwords of network authentications by performing brute force attacks. It performs dictionary attacks against more than 30 protocols including Telnet, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, SMB and more. It is available for various platforms including Linux, Windows/Cygwin, Solaris 11, FreeBSD 8.1, OpenBSD, OSX and QNX/Blackberry.
Download THC Hydra here.
These are a few popular brute-forcing tools for password cracking. There are various other tools are also available which perform brute force on different kinds of authentication. If I just give an example of a few small tools, you will see most of the PDF-cracking and ZIP-cracking tools use the same brute force methods to perform attacks and crack passwords. There are many such tools available for free or paid.
Brute-forcing is the best password-cracking method. The success of the attack depends on various factors. However, factors that affect most are password length and combination of characters, letters and special characters. This is why when we talk about strong passwords, we usually suggest that users have long passwords with a combination of lower-case letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters. It does not make brute-forcing impossible but it does make it difficult. Therefore, it will take a longer time to reach to the password by brute-forcing.
Almost all hash-cracking algorithms use the brute force to hit and try. This attack is best when you have offline access to data. In that case, it makes it easy to crack and takes less time.
Brute force password cracking is also very important in computer security. It is used to check the weak passwords used in the system, network or application.
The best way to prevent brute force attacks is to limit invalid logins. In this way, attacks can only hit and try passwords only for limited times. This is why web-based services start showing captchas if you hit the wrong passwords three times or they will block your IP address.
The compromise of passwords is always a serious threat to the confidentiality and integrity of data. Generally, the passwords shorter than 7 characters are especially susceptible to bruteforce attack. However, a sequence of mistyped commands or incorrect login responses (with attempts to recover or reuse them) can be a signs of brute-force intrusion attempts.
Brute force attack is a process of guessing a password through various techniques. Commonly, brute force attacks are divided into three categories:
a) Traditional Brute Force
In a traditional brute force attack, you will try all the possible combinations to guess the correct password. This process is very usually time consuming; if the password is long, it will take years to brute-force. But if the password is short, it can give quick results.
b) Dictionary Attacks
In a dictionary-based brute force attack, we use a custom wordlist, which contains a list of all possible username and password combinations. It is much faster than traditional brute force attacks and is the recommended approach for penetration tests.
c) Hybrid Attacks
Hybrid brute force attacks are a combination of both traditional brute force attack and dictionary based attack. The idea behind a hybrid attack is that it will apply a brute force attack on the dictionary list.
The RAID Set Estimated Size total will reflect the amount of storage your RAID will have. Leave the Volume Format menu set to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).Drag the disks that you want to be part of the RAID into the list box in Disk Utility’s main window (see “Adding Disks”). Click on the RAID tab in Disk Utility’s main window, name the RAID in the RAID Set Name field, and choose the type from the RAID Type pop-up menu. When the Installer application launches, choose Utilities: Disk Utility.If you aren’t using the Mac Pro’s original startup drive as part of your RAID array, you can simply install two (or more) new drives and then launch the copy of Disk Utility that’s on your startup drive (/Applications/ Disk Utility).Inside Disk UtilityYou use Disk Utility to configure your disks as a striped RAID, a mirrored RAID, or a concatenated disk set.To begin, select a drive that you want to add to your RAID (or disk set) from the list of drives on the left side of the Disk Utility window. Erase mac hard disk. When the Mac boots up, choose your language in the window that appears, and click on the Next arrow.
Using bruteforce attacks, an attacker could gain full access to the affected machine. When conducting brute force attacks or password attacks, faster processing speed is beneficial. In cases where remote brute force attacks are conducted, bandwidth constraints must be addressed.
THC hydra is one of the oldest password cracking tools developed by “The Hackers Community“. By far, Hydra has the most protocol coverage than any other password cracking tool as per our knowledge, and it is available for almost all the modern operating systems. THC Hydra can perform rapid dictionary attacks against many protocols such as Telnet, FTP, HTTP, SMB etc.
Here is the basic syntax for hydra (Linux version) to brute-force a service.
Syntax: Hydra –L administrator –P password.txt <target ip > <service>
Aircrack-ng is another most popular brute force wireless hacking tool which is further used to assess WiFi network security. Generally it focuses on different 4 areas of WiFi security i.e. Monitoring, Attacking, Testing and Cracking.
Aircrack-ng is a set of tools widely used to crack/recover WEP/WPA/ WPA2-PSK. It supports various attacks such as PTW, which can be used to decrypt WEP key with a less number of initialization vectors, and dictionary/brute force attacks, which can be used against WPA/WPA2-PSK. It includes a wide variety of tools such as packet sniffer and packet injector. The most common ones are airodump-ng, aireply-ng, and airmon-ng.
Ncrack is one of our favorite tool for password cracking. It is based upon nmap libraries. It comes pre-installed with Kali Linux OS. It can be combined with nmap to yield great results. The only disadvantage is that it supports very few services, namely, FTP, SSH, Telnet, FTP, POP3, SMB, RDP, and VNC.
SAMInside is a security tool compatible with only Windows operating systems and allows lost passwords and locked systems to be unlocked and accessed with a complex, but easy to use system of password recovery.
Hashcat is the world’s fastest and most advanced password recovery utility, supporting 5 unique modes of attack for over 200 highly-optimized hashing algorithms. hashcat currently supports CPUs, GPUs, and other hardware accelerators on Linux, Windows, and macOS, and has facilities to help enable distributed password cracking.
Ophcrack is a Windows-based tool that has the capability to not only dump the hashes, but also crack those hashes using rainbow tables. The ophcrack program comes with rainbow tables that work for passwords of a very short length. So if the password is lengthy, or, say, alphanumeric, you won’t be able to crack it.
Cain and Abel (often abbreviated to Cain) is a password recovery tool for Microsoft Windows only. It can recover many kinds of passwords using methods such as network packet sniffing, cracking various password hashes by using methods such as dictionary attacks, brute force and cryptanalysis attacks.
Rainbow crack can not only be used to crack password hashes by using rainbow tables, but it can also help you create your own rainbow tables in case you don’t want to download them; but remember that if you are generating a large rainbow table, you should make sure that you have ample hard drive space.
John the Ripper (JTR) is an open source password cracker; it’s one of the fastest password crackers around and is pre-installed in Kali Linux OS. It can be used to perform both bruteforce attacks and dictionary-based attacks. It also comes with a pre-installed wordlists.
L0phtCrack is a password auditing and recovery application originally produced by Mudge from L0pht Heavy Industries. It is used to test password strength and sometimes to recover lost Microsoft Windows passwords, by using dictionary, brute-force, hybrid attacks, and rainbow tables. It was one of the crackers’ tools of choice, although most use old versions because of its low price and high availability.