Anatomy of a Password Attack, and How to Prevent Them

by | Jun/9/2022

Password attacks against businesses happen all the time. You can protect your organization.

Imagine that your firewall has doors to allow connections into your network. Usernames and passwords are the keys to unlocking the doors. An effective cybersecurity control is to remove the doors. When there is no door, there is no keyhole for an attacker to try to guess the keys.

Many organizations have too many open doors exposed to the world. An essential cybersecurity control is to remove the entries. Alternatively, if you must have the door, your IT team can configure the firewall with a cloaking strategy so that only specific sources can see the door. Most people would never know there is a door.

Ask your IT team to close external ports that are not essential to doing business. If they must leave ports open, ask them to create rules to limit access to specific source addresses if possible.

Below is information from the security log file on a server tracking failed login attempts. For a brute-force password guessing attack, the attackers must also guess usernames. They can predict usernames such as Administrator, so they try many passwords, 1398 in the example below, for predictable names.

If your IT team shows you a list of guessed names, and the guessed usernames match workers in your organization, that is a severe concern. It means that the attackers have done their research or already have access. You are a specific target. Remember, if there is no door, then these attacks cannot happen:

1398 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Administrator
836 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Admin
554 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user
314 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: test
314 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user1
160 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user2
156 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user3
156 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: admin1
155 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: test1
111 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: guest
91 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sql
89 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: aspnet
87 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: support_388945a0
84 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: david
83 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: root
82 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: backup
80 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sys
80 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: support
80 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Other
80 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: a
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: test2
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: server
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: 1
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: john
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: test3
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: console
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: owner
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: actuser
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: 123
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: adm
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: admin2
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user4
78 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user5
32 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: surferquest
18 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: auditor
15 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: alilong
14 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: SCOTT
13 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: chirotouch
13 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: PEGGY
12 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: follow
12 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: CHERYL
12 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: TERRI
11 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ETB User
10 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: system_backupDB
10 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: QBPOSDBSrvUser
10 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: xuhai
10 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tu
9 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mroot
9 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: manager
9 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: justin
8 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: iis
8 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Linux
7 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: acs
7 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vetvault
7 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: squirrel
7 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user01
7 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: crsuser
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: saleslan
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: IUSR_SOR
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: scan
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: expedite
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: DSNVSUser
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: reception
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: hei
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: VNIAdmin_DoNotDelete
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: kaypro
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: payroll
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mark
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: alex
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: linhai
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ntsec_admin
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lisa
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: oprrs
6 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: monster
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Acsadmin
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cli
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: awesen
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: aloha
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: micrologic
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: scanner
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: swentz
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jacob
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jordan
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: backoffice
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: amiga
5 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: pos
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: warehouse
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: rdspos
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: linda
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: copier
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: rds
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: acasey
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mary
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sapsupport
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post6
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: james
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: micros
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: spppse
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: possvr
4 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: apple_terminal
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: shipping
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: manw
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: MssqlUser
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: miass
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: receptionist
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: grace
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: iusr_qa
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: hk
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: fax
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: menw
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sales
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: parts
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Tsmotw
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: svc-netmon
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: staff
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: adminsc5
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ssyyet
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sysadmin
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ashley
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: araxi
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ccdrs
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ava
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Cat
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Spectra
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tech
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: voicemail
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: adm1n
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: terry
3 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Administrador
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: laptop
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lab
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Astsm
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: larry
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lee
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: billing
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: besadmin
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: bill
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: joshua
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: kathy
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: avery
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: beadmin
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Kantech
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: keith
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: kiosk
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: aubrey
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: joseph
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: benjamin
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lewis
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: alan
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: aiden
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: addison
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lvellman
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: madison
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: manger
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: accountant
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mia
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: abigail
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mason
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: matthew
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: adam
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: angela
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: andrew
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: andrea
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: liam
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: anthony
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lillian
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: logmeinremoteuser
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lori
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lucas
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: amelia
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: alexander
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: logan
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: joe
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cindy
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: chris
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: chloe
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: CorpOwner
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: evelyn
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: consult
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: front
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: frontdesk
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: gabriel
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: checkout
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: FranOwner
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: checkin
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ethan
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: elijah
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: elizabeth
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ella
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: doctor
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: don
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: donna
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: dennis
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: daniel
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cs13368
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: emily
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: emma
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: eric
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: general
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: bruce
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jack
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jackson
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: buexec
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: isabella
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: bruno
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: bkupexec
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jerry
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jim
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: brian
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jayden
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jeff
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: intern
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: harper
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: charlie
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: chad
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: glenn
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: charlotte
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: grocery
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: canon
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: info
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: install
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: celerant
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: henry
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: carlos
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: remote
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tim
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tom
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Ray
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: robert
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: roger
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: RETAIL
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ricoh
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post4
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post7
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: trish
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: peter
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: production
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tony
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: toshiba
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tool
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sophia
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sqladmin
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Tech01
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sofia
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: steve
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: symantec
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: stanley
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: t1
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: samuel
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: scans
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: terasoma
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: temp
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Silverx
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: skaner
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: security
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: shop
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: operator
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: olivia
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: natalie
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: zoey
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mike
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: william
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ospite
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: office
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: veronica
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vismail
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: victoria
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: noah
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ncrm
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: wand
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: nss256wendys
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: michael
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: microssvc
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: visitor
2 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: xerox
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: template
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cia
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cihan
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cayetano
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: muhasebe
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: bruno1234
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: comercial
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: susan
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vrfy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: camilie
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: teresa
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: telnet
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ted
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tape
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: washington
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: web
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: taylor
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tcp
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tarragona
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tanya
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: teds
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: acct1
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: t12010
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tammy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: www
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ceyda
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: accounting
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: training
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tracy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: travis
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: transition
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vance
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tracey
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: appservadmin
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: appismo
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vanschoor
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: trent
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user02
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tsadmin
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user8
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: user7
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: truck
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tricia
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: uwe
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: troisi
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: uucp
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: timc
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: thomas
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: timeclock
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: beer
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: therese
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: term
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: teri
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: theresa
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: texas
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: backupexec
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vcs
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: toni
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: vargas
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tonya
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tommy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: timothy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: timeclock mails
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: todd
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: tina
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: perl
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: pentagon
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: piotr
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post2
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post1
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: paul1234
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: kevin
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: pcadmin
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: karen
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: pdf
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: posuser
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: postmaster
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: prepress
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: program
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: IUSR_SERVER
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: jimmy
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post3
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post5
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: poste2
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Post8
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: paul
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: myhost
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: nasa
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: love
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: neil
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: micros1
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: michelle
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: miguel
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: marco
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: mode
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: parking
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: ospite1234
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: patrizia
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: kubik
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: patrizia2
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: lorenzo
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: netsis
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: network
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: orders
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: new
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: publish
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: socket
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: SmokinPremiums
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: solaris
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: documents
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: domain
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: scan123
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: expn
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: evan
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: silver
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: esmtp
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: station4
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: cscadmin
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sue
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: supervisor
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: contract
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: spiceworks
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: soss
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: daniela
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: csi
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: SQLAgentCmdExec
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: salesman
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: reguser
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: rcpt
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: relay
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: guard
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: halt
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: qwerty
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: query
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: rad
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: radiant
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: IME_ADMIN
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: rupert
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: fuji1
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: FPUPDENGUSR
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: fbi
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: sales2
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: report
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: renteria
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: good
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: gans
1 different passwords attempted with this guessed username: Richard