MacOS may be very secure compared to other operating systems, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be targeted by hackers, especially if your password security isn’t very good. Hackers have developed many techniques to hack people’s passwords, but one of the most common methods is a brute force attack. This article will cover the concept of a brute force attack: what it is, what the different types of brute force attacks are, and how to protect your Mac from them.
What is a brute force attack?
A brute force attack is when a hacker tries to guess an account’s password by making a bunch of different attempts. These attacks may be generic and include guesses like “password” or “123456” (which are actually pretty commonly used), but they can also be more thought-out. Depending on the knowledge that the brute force attack is based on, the following types can be named:
• Simple brute force attack - this attack is based on no specific knowledge on the person or organization that is being targeted and includes a flood of thousands of guesses.
• Dictionary attack - this type of brute force attack is based on a set of words or phrases that are likely used in the targeted account. For example, this type of attack might include phrases related to the business name, the person’s name, hometown, country of residence, etc.
• Credential stuffing - if someone’s login information gets leaked and hackers get their hands on this information, then they might try to log into that person’s other accounts. With 65% of people reusing their passwords across several accounts, the chances of a successful credential stuffing attack are quite high.
How to avoid a brute force attack on your Mac?
Anyone can be targeted with a brute force attack, but the following steps should be enough to keep your accounts safe:
Use complicated passwords
Brute force attacks are only successful if your passwords are easy enough to guess. If you take your time in creating super strong and complicated passwords, then hackers won’t stand a chance.
By complicated passwords, we mean very complicated passwords. Of course, you should avoid passwords like “password1”, or any password containing your name, hometown, or any personal information. However, that’s still not enough to secure your password against brute force attacks. Please make sure that your passwords contain the following:
• At least 12 characters
• Uppercase letters
• Lowercase letters
Here’s an example of a strong password: r<P&qUmrL39~. Naturally, you may be getting anxious that you’ll forget a password as complicated as this. That’s why it’s a good idea to secure your passwords using a Mac password manager. This way, you won’t need to remember a single one of your passwords anymore, and you can use super strong ones for each of your accounts.
Use a different password for each account
Sadly, creating one strong password and using it for all of your accounts isn’t a very good idea. Even if your password is super strong, it can be stolen through techniques other than brute force attacks, making you susceptible to credential stuffing and having all of your accounts hacked.
Set up 2FA
Using strong and different passwords is usually enough to prevent brute force attacks, but it’s best to set up two-factor authentication as an additional security measure. After all, your passwords can get leaked in other ways as well, not just through brute force attacks. To really make your accounts resistant to hackers, connect your accounts to the second factor of authentication like your email or phone number. Even if your passwords end up getting leaked, two-factor authentication will stop hackers from getting into your accounts.
What are some other threats to your password security?
Hackers often target people’s passwords by creating fake emails and sending them to as many emails as they can. These emails are a tool for hackers to “fish” out people’s sensitive information, hence the name “phishing”.
For example, some of these emails may be made to look like they’ve been sent from a company like Amazon and ask people to enter their password into a given box because their account needs to be verified. Other phishing emails might simply ask you to click on a link because you’ve “won a reward”. Once you click on one of these links, you infect your device with password-stealing malware, which we’re about to cover in more detail.
There are many different types of malware that are aimed specifically at people’s passwords. For example, there’s keylogger malware, which records every keystroke you make on your laptop (including your passwords). Then there’s spyware, which allows a hacker to spy on all of your activity, not just the keystrokes you make.
Some malware may enter your device through a phishing email. Others may infect your device through a malicious link. Sometimes, even ads can contain malware if you’re on a shady website. Bottom line is that hackers have planted malware pretty much everywhere on the internet, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid being targeted at some point. Please be extra careful not to fall for any of these scams.
Have you ever heard about how dangerous public wifi is? In case you were wondering why, it’s mainly because of man-in-the-middle attacks. These kinds of attacks happen when a hacker accesses a private connection between a device and the network it’s connected to and collects all information that’s transmitted through that connection.
A hacker can only perform a man-in-the-middle attack if the wifi that the device is connected to is not encrypted or is very weakly encrypted. Therefore, it’s crucial to be careful about every single network you connect to and avoid wifi that you find at cafes or airports.
Hacking techniques keep getting more and more advanced, and the software hackers use for brute force attacks also keeps getting faster and faster. You can never prevent yourself from being targeted with brute force attacks or other password-stealing schemes, but you can build up a lot of security for your accounts by following the steps mentioned above.