Once upon a time, in 2019, a multinational software company took a huge hit to their security. The hackers took business documents from a shared drive by accessing their IT infrastructure by a password spraying attack, a process to expose weak passwords. According to the Data Breach Investigations Report, over 80 percent of hacking-related breaches involved either stolen (or lost) credentials or brute-force attacks.
There is no way to prevent a spraying attack but you can detect or even stop them.
Hackers security passwords spraying
What Is a Password Spraying Attack?
Typically brute force hackers will target single accounts by testing multiple passwords. Cybersecurity allows for security protocols to detect suspicious activity and locks the account. Password spraying is the flip side to that where they are using a basic password against multiple user accounts. Trying a single password on many accounts before attempting another password on the same account is a workaround for normal lockout protocols, which allows the hacker to try more passwords. For that reason, password spraying attacks are frequently successful.
Any hacker who targets a large number of usernames and works with a large enough stash of common passwords is bound to be able to compromise some accounts. In addition, hackers will target users who use a single sign-on (SSO) authentication in hopes of gaining access to credentials that will give them access to multiple systems. Once an account has been accessed in an attack, the victim typically loses temporary or complete loss of sensitive information. On a business level, that would mean disrupted operations, revenue loss, and the risk no one will trust you again after a reputation hit.
How to Detect a Password Spraying Attack
Even though countermeasures may not automatically detect a password spraying attack, one indication is a high number of authentication attempts, especially failed attempts due to incorrect passwords. Typically an attack would lead to a spike in login attempts. Hackers use automated tools to attempt thousands of logins within a short time, typically coming from a single IP address or device.
How to Decrease the Risk of Password Spraying Attacks
- Require multi-factor authentication for all users.
- Establish strong policies for resetting passwords after lockouts.
Attend regular user training to ensure all users understand the threat of password spraying and maintain secure passwords.
- Set up alerts on the activity you see as suspicious, including single actions like a user gaining admin privileges or a sequence of actions within a specific timeframe.
It is crucial to delete successful attacks because even the briefest access could be detrimental. A sound cybersecurity protocol requires a broad, proactive approach that secures layered protection to block as many attacks as possible. Consider implementing some of these factors, or it may be time to do a review of everything.