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Blog What is a brute-force attack in encryption

A brute-force attack is an old black hat technique. But, it's still the most effective and popular among hackers. Only a strong password can protect your data from brute-force attacks.

An opened lock shows how brute force attack works

A brute-force attack is known as a cryptanalytic attack. It is an attacker who tries to decrypt the unknown key through millions or billions of guesses. The attacker consistently checks all possible passphrases and passwords until the correct one is discovered. The attacker could also try to guess the key, which is usually generated from the password using a key derivation function.

An attacker can theoretically use a brute-force attack to decrypt any encrypted data, except for well-encrypted data. Brute-force attacks are much faster with modern computers, which is why the encryption must be robust and complex. Weak passwords are particularly vulnerable to brute force attacks. Longer passphrases, passwords, and keys have more possible values and even more combinations, making them exponentially harder to crack than shorter ones.

By obfuscating the data to be encoded, it is more difficult for an attacker to identify when the code is cracked or for the attacker to do more work to test each guess, thereby reducing the efficiency of brute-force attacks. Therefore, an encryption system's strength depends on how long it would theoretically take an attacker to mount a successful brute-force attack against it.

Encryption can prevent brute force attacks. There are different types of encryption, with low-level to high-level security protection. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is an encryption program, but it is weak against brute-force attacks. High-level encryption algorithms like Bcrypt, a password hashing function, is based on Blowfish encryption. Bcrypt is adaptive. As time goes by, the number of iterations can be increased to make it slower, so even if the computing power increases, it can resist brute-force attacks.

Most modern encryption methods, along with high-quality passwords, are resistant to brute-force attacks. However, they may become weak to such attacks in the future as computers become more and more powerful. Therefore, we encourage always use high entropy.

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