Have you ever encountered an intruder using “brute force” to gain unauthorized access somewhere? It is common sense to understand that anything that involves “brute force” impacts the victim badly. The victim could be a person, a machine, an animal, or even your website.
Below, we discuss WordPress brute force attacks, their impact on websites, preventive measures, and facing the consequences of the attack.
Brute Force Attacks and Types
As the name implies, a brute force attack applies random guesses to log into your WordPress account as some type of user or administrator. Bots sent by hackers keep on guessing the account’s login and passwords with different combinations. Cracking the wp-admin’s password can take only a few seconds or years, depending on the complexity and length of the password.
Brute force attacks are an old form of hacking websites, but hackers still use them with success. The attacker can easily remove all the content of the site, take personal information (email addresses, login details, customer data, etc.), or even insert malicious software (malware).
Some of the more common brute force attack types are as follows:
1. Simple Brute Force Attacks:
These attacks depend on logic to guess about username and passwords of the user, like favorite food, nicknames, or birthdays that they get from social media sites or online platforms.
2. Dictionary Attacks:
This type of attack chooses a target and randomly lists possible passwords against the target’s username. Dictionary attacks are the simplest of tools in brute force attacks. The attacks help in password cracking. Some hackers may even go through the whole, complete dictionaries and select words with special characters and numerals or use special dictionaries of words. However, this requires dedicated and sometimes hectic efforts.
3. Hybrid Brute Force Attacks:
In this type of attack, the hackers mix external methods with random guesswork to try to enter a website. This hybrid form of attack resembles a blend of dictionary and simple brute force attacks. Usually, these attacks set a common word or phrase with numbers or other characters like london1234 or paris43**.
4. Reverse Brute Force Attacks:
A reverse brute force attack uses a known password to attack an account or website the attack by unlike the previous types. The hackers hunt down millions of usernames to match with their target. These usernames and passwords are usually from hacked accounts available on the internet.
5. Credential stuffing:
Hacker records a username-password combo applied to one website, and then they will try it on other websites as well. This method is selected because many users tend to use the same or similar passwords across numerous accounts or platforms.
The Impact of Brute Force Attacks
Brute Force attacks create an immediate negative effect on the website’s server. Many unwanted login attempts by bots and hackers force the server to respond to these unwanted requests.
As a result, you will face all the negative effects of increased server usage on your website including a slowed-down response rate of the website; various users not being able to log in; high buffer rates; inaccessibility at your end, etc. This condition may also force web hosts to restrict server usage, especially if you are using shared hosting.
Then, if the hackers manage to accomplish their “mission”, be ready to encounter malware and highly dangerous operations from your website. This could include your website becoming part of a botnet. Botnets attack other websites and without your consent or control, your website may start doing the same. This will flag your website on many domains and by many security systems, leading to many issues.
#7 steps to prevent or protect against Brute Force
Following are seven useful steps that you can take to prevent these attacks and reduce damage:
1. Use difficult or complex login username and password
We highly recommend you use login credentials that are more advanced than samples like “admin” and “password1234” to block against obvious attacks. Use unique passwords that are hard to figure out. In line with this, administrators can also add random password hashes via a random string of letters and numbers, also called salts, to the password itself. This helps users have different hashes for the same password.
2. Use high encryption rates
To make it harder for brute force attacks to succeed, System administrators need to ensure that their passwords in the system are having the highest encryption rates available, such as 256-bit encryption. This makes it very difficult for brute force attacks to penetrate the system.
3. Limit the number of login attempts to the system
One thing you can always do is to deter the attacking bots from multiple login attempts. You can strengthen your security shield by blocking access to the account temporarily when too many failed attempts occur. This reduces the brute force attacker’s effectiveness as their requests don’t reach the server.
Please note that WordPress by default allows unlimited log-in attempts, making it vulnerable to these attacks. But security providers like MalwareCare can counter these by its strong security features, allowing limited failed attempts.
4. Change the login page of the website administrator
A better protection step than limiting admin login attempts is to change your administrator login page address. This will make penetrating your system extremely hard for malicious bots and hackers alike.
Instead of the more common URL address of “yoursite.com/wp-admin”, we suggest you alter the page address by inputting a fancier address by an URL editor or using a Slug, a text identifier of a content. MalwareCare can help you with that.
5. Add Two-factor authentication in WordPress
Administrators can also apply a two-step authentication system that shares real-time login tokens such as an email, OTP, or QR code to the admin’s device, acting like an intrusion detection system for brute force attacks. Also, this method makes it very difficult to guess your access, thanks to the second step in the authentication. This protection requires third-party plugin installation in WordPress.
6. Require captcha submitting
Using this method helps you differentiate between humans and malicious bots, that avidly spend time at your login, waiting to cash in on the perfect instance. Captcha may be many types including retyping the text in an image, ticking a checkbox, or identifying images or figures. This method can be used before the first login attempt or after each failed attempt.
7. Check and remove dormant accounts
The unused or very less used accounts allow hackers to target them as the owner of the accounts are unaware of the attacks. Also, because these dormant accounts possess the same passwords for elongated periods, brute force attackers find it easy to attack. We advise you to remove such accounts permanently or at least review them occasionally.
Dealing with the consequences of WordPress Brute Force
A brute force attack on your WordPress website usually means your security and content have been compromised. Thus, without further delay, you should log out all users forcefully and scan the website with malware security services like MalwareCare.
This will allow you to clean the problem for the time being and put in place an advanced firewall system for future protection. Also, you should ensure the above-listed steps, if not more.
Other good security practices
Besides the above-listed methods, we also recommend the following:
- Ensure you maintain frequent backups of everything on the website.
- Installing security plugins helps lessen the attacks.
- Keeping the website’s components and plugins updated reduces the chances of hacks by manifolds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
As the name implies, Brute Force attacks can be devastating for you and your WordPress site. As these threats target administrative control, these hackers should be blocked 24×7, keeping the websites safe from penetration. Malwarecare.com provides in-depth support for its customers on WordPress security, especially Brute Force attacks..