What is Password Spraying in Cybersecurity? Definition & Prevention Techniques
A type of cyber attack known as “password spraying” occurs when a hacker tries to access multiple accounts on a single domain by using a common password. An attacker might perhaps gain access to hundreds of accounts with one attempt if they use a list of popular weak passwords, like 123456 or password1, etc.
Criminals using the internet can access many accounts simultaneously, providing them access to both personal and company accounts as well as sensitive data. Only one-third of your company’s accounts could be compromised by a cybercriminal, giving them access to:
- Bank information
- Personal information on employees
- Benefits information, including account numbers
- Sensitive company data
- Product information
- Trade secrets
- Other login credentials
Anyway, sometimes password spraying is confused with credential stuffing. But, in reality, both of them are different. Let’s see how.
Difference Between Password Spraying and Credential Stuffing
As compared to password spraying the other attack makes use of the fact that some users may use the same login credentials for many accounts and is “stuffed” into a different system’s login site as opposed to cycling through common passwords. These passwords are fully confirmed credentials (usually a username and passwords) that are frequently made public by a data breach involving another system.
On the other hand, Password spray attacks are often conducted using a spraying toolkit (a group of software tools or a single program) and usernames gathered from a directory or an open source. In an effort to get access to accounts, the toolkit is used along with a few instructions to assume the usernames and then broadcast a list of popular passwords.
How to Spot Attacks That Use Password Spraying?
Early detection of a password spray attack can give you plenty of time to respond and secure your accounts. How So? Let’s have a look at the same.
1. Password Spraying Detection For Individual Users
- MFA/2FA: Using multi-factor authentication to secure your accounts enables you to demand a different set of credentials to access them and to receive notifications whenever a new device tries to do so.
- Utilize a dark web monitoring service to protect your information and get alerted if any of your login credentials have been compromised. BreachWatch® scans the dark web for accounts that have been compromised and notifies you right away so you can take precautions to safeguard your online identity.
2. Password Spraying Detection For Business Users
- Keep a tight eye on logins Bad usernames being entered repeatedly is typically a symptom of an assault. Make sure your IT team is monitoring company logins closely and is alerted when incorrect usernames are repeatedly entered.
- Keep an eye out for an increase in account lockouts, failed login attempts, or authentication attempts: Spraying passwords is risky but not always effective. Make sure you are informed whenever a login attempt fails. Look for trends in failed logins. Even though one or two failed login attempts in a row might not necessarily be cause for concern, many failed login attempts from various accounts warrant further investigation.
Methods to Prevent Password Spraying
Here are the ways you can apply to prevent this type of cyber attack.
1. Spot Password Spraying For Individual Users
- Make use of two-factor authentication: As discussed earlier, this adds additional login requirements and warns you of failed login attempts. You can increase security by diversifying your 2FA/MFA requirements. Don’t, for instance, limit yourself to Time-Based One-Time Passwords (TOTP). Utilize on some delicate accounts, if possible.
- Use unique passwords instead of commonly used ones. Some of the most popular passwords include terms like password, love, and sequential numbers.
- Don’t reuse passwords; instead, create complicated, one-of-a-kind ones for every account. A password manager can assist you in creating more secure, one-of-a-kind passwords, storing them securely, and integrating them with external authentication tools.
2. Protecting Business Users from Password Spraying
Take the following actions to protect your company and its employees:
- On company portals, use MFA and security questions.
- To stop bots from accessing accounts using stolen passwords, use CAPTCHAs.
- Use modern VPNs for the team to conceal IP addresses and make it much harder for an attacker to pinpoint the precise IP addresses of your company.
- Implement a stringent cybersecurity policy for your organization that emphasizes using different, challenging passwords for each account.
- All staff should get company-wide training about the risks of password spraying, other cybersecurity issues, and the necessity for stronger passwords.
The widespread usage of popular passwords has increased the risk of password spraying. More than 65% of internet users use the same password for all of their accounts or numerous ones. You can see why password spraying is so successful since it only takes a few people to put a whole company in danger by using bad passwords. Hence, be cyber-safe by deploying cybersecurity measures in place.
Q- What is Password Spraying attack?
It is a cyberattack tactic in which an attacker tries to access a system or account without authorization by using a small list of frequently used passwords or a few popular passwords against numerous users or accounts. It concentrates on trying a small selection of passwords over numerous accounts in order to evade detection.
Q- How is password spraying different from a brute-force attack?
While the goal of both attacks is to find working passwords, their methods are different. While password spraying uses a selection of popular or previously leaked passwords and attempts them across numerous accounts, the other attack tests every conceivable combination of characters in a methodical manner.
Q- Which passwords are frequently used in password-spraying attacks?
Easily guessed passwords like “password,” “123456,” “admin,” or other widely used and weak passwords are usually utilized by attackers. They might create their list of passwords by using known password breaches as well.
Q- How can businesses prevent attacks via password spraying?
Companies can put in place a number of security measures to avoid such attacks:
- Implement robust password policies.
- Put account lockout procedures in place following a predetermined number of unsuccessful login tries.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a useful tool for enhancing security.
- Keep an eye out for behaviors that point to password spraying when tracking login attempts.
- Inform users on how to make secure, one-of-a-kind passwords.