Baltimore may be the Charm City, but there’s nothing charming about being the target of cyberattacks in recent years. The city has suffered much at the hands of cybercriminals, from the February 2014 attack at the University of Maryland that exposed the private information of more than 309,000 students, staff, and alumni, to the December 2019 ransomware attack that hit the Maryland Health Department and shut down its services. The worst one, however, was the infamous May 2019 ransomware attack that shut down Baltimore City’s services for months. That attack cost the city $18 million and spurred Baltimore and the state of Maryland to improve their cybersecurity measures.
These attacks are why business owners in Maryland should be more cybersecurity-savvy, especially with password attacks.
What are password attacks?
Password attacks are attempts to gain unauthorized access to accounts through passwords. It’s one of the most common yet effective ways for attackers to access a company’s network and steal sensitive data, such as financial information and customer records, or gain control over critical systems.
By understanding the different types of password attacks and how they work, you can better protect your enterprise from becoming a victim.
What are the password attacks to watch out for in 2023?
The following are some of today’s most prevalent password attacks that businesses should protect themselves against:
Brute force attacks
Many attackers attempt to guess passwords by systematically trying all possible combinations of characters, seemingly by brute force. This kind of attack is increasing due to greater computing power, making it easier to crack weak passwords.
In this type of attack, attackers use stolen usernames and passwords from a previous data breach to gain access to accounts on other websites and services. This method is easy for attackers to pull off because it relies on the human tendency to reuse passwords, especially across multiple accounts.
This type of attack works similarly to a brute force attack. However, instead of guessing the password on a per-character basis, the attacker uses common words and phrases to guess the password. A dictionary attack works against weak passwords that are based on simple, easy-to-guess words or phrases.
Man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM)
MitM attacks involve someone intercepting data in transit. Imagine three people sitting side by side; for the two on the outside to communicate with one another, they must pass their messages through the middle person. In an MitM attack, the victim doesn’t know there’s a person in the middle stealing their data.
Phishing attackers trick users into revealing their passwords or other sensitive information by sending them fake emails or text messages that seem to come from a legitimate organization. Such messages may include links to fake websites or attachments that contain malware.
To know how a rainbow attack works, it’s important to understand that passwords are not stored as they are. Instead, they are converted into a fixed length value, or hash. This value represents the original data in a more efficient and secure way. A rainbow attack is like a dictionary attack, but instead of using a list of words, it uses a rainbow table, or the key that deciphers encrypted passwords.
How can businesses protect themselves from password attacks?
The following are some of the most effective ways to protect your organization from password attacks.
Require strong passwords
Businesses should require their employees to use strong passwords that are at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Complex passwords are significantly harder to crack and help safeguard sensitive business information from unauthorized access, minimizing the risk of breaches and potential financial losses.
Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra layer of security to accounts by requiring users to verify their identity using another factor, such as a code from their phone or another device, in addition to their password. By requiring multiple forms of verification, MFA drastically reduces the risk of unauthorized access. This extra security step ensures that even if login credentials are compromised, the intruder would still need the secondary factor to access the account.
Educate employees about password security
Your employees need to understand password security best practices, such as how to create strong passwords, how to avoid phishing attacks, and how to keep passwords safe.
Use a password manager
A password manager can help users create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of their accounts, eliminating the need to remember multiple login credentials. Using this tool also helps promote good security practices and saves time by auto-filling login credentials, ultimately reducing the risk of unauthorized access to critical business accounts.
Implementing these security measures can help Baltimore businesses protect their data from password attacks. Or better yet, partner with a local managed IT services provider like NetQuest. We offer network security and computer data security services that ensure your systems and data are always protected at a price you can afford. To learn more, contact our experts today.