What are brute force attacks?

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2012 03:56PM CET

A brute force attack is a strategy used to break a user's password. It is the most widely used method for privilege escalation and involves software that is capable of running through all the possible permutations of characters until the correct combination is found.

For example, if your password is 2 characters long and consists of case sensitive letters and numbers, then a brute force attack sees a potential of 3,844 different combinations. This is because:
 

  • First character: lower case letters (26) + upper case letters (26) + numbers (10) = 62
  • Second character: the same amount as the first character = 62
  • Total permutations = 62*62 = 3,844