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11.4.4. Password Attacks‌

Password attacks are attacks against the authentication system of a service. These attacks are often broken into online password attacks and offline password attacks, which you will find re- flected in the Password Attacks menu category. In an online password attack, multiple passwords are attempted against a running system. In an offline password attack, the hashed or encrypted values of the passwords are obtained and the attacker attempts to obtain the clear text values. The protection against this sort of attack is the fact that it is computationally expensive to work through this process, limiting the number of attempts per second you can generate. However,



workarounds for this do exist, such as using graphic processor units (GPUs) to accelerate the num- ber of attempts that can be made. The kali-linux-gpu metapackage contains a number of tools that tap into this power.

Most commonly, password attacks target vendor-supplied default passwords. As these are well- known values, attackers will scan for these default accounts, hoping to get lucky. Other common attacks include custom dictionary attacks where a wordlist is created that has been tailored to the target environment and then an online password attack against common, default, or known accounts is conducted where each word is attempted in sequence.

In an assessment, it is very important to understand the potential consequences of this sort of attack. First, they are often very noisy due to the repeated authentication attempts. Secondly, these attacks can often result in an account lock out situation after too many invalid attempts are performed against a single account. Finally, the performance of these attacks is often quite slow, resulting in difficulty when attempting to use a comprehensive wordlist.

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