Dictionary Attack: A Beginner’s Guide In 5 Easy Points

Ajay Ohri


We, as clients, trust organizations, and service providers to protect our information. We trust that they don’t leave any indirect accesses in their software, appropriately train their representatives, and don’t store usernames and passwords in plaintext. 

Yet, everything isn’t as straightforward as it would appear. Network safety assaults can influence anybody, and at times it very well might be hard to secure yourself or your business. Be that as it may, some of them, similar to a dictionary attack, can be effectively forestalled.

  1. What is Dictionary Attack
  2. Working
  3. Difference between dictionary and brute force attacks
  4. Brute force vs Dictionary attack
  5. Prevention

1. What is Dictionary Attack

A dictionary attack is a brute-force method where assailants go through regular words and expressions, for example, those from a dictionary, to figure passwords.  the fact that individuals regularly utilize straightforward, simple to-recall passwords across numerous records implies dictionary attacks can be fruitful while requiring fewer assets to execute.

“An attack in which cybercriminals utilize trial-and-error tactics to decode passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), and other forms of login data by leveraging automated software to test large quantities of possible combinations”, is one of many dictionary attack definition.

2. Working

During a dictionary attack, a program methodically enters words from a rundown as passwords to access a system, account, or encrypted document. A dictionary attack can be performed both on the web and offline. 

In an online assault, the aggressor consistently attempts to sign in or get entrance like some other client. This kind of assault works better if the programmer has a rundown of likely passwords. In the event that the assault takes excessively long, it may get seen by a system administrator or the original client. 

During an offline assault, however, there are no network constraints to how often you can figure the password. To do it, programmers need to get their hands on the password storage file from the framework they need to get to, so it’s more convoluted than an online assault. However, when they have the right password, they will have the option to sign in without anybody taking a note of it.

3. Difference between dictionary and brute force attacks

Both are common kinds of cybersecurity assaults in which an aggressor attempts to sign in to a client’s record by deliberately checking and endeavoring every single imaginable password and passphrase until the right one is found. These brute-force and dictionary assaults are common, because of huge amounts of people reusing basic password varieties.

Brute force assaults are likewise used to figure passwords. They generally depend on the computing intensity of the assailant’s PC. During a brute power assault, a program likewise consequently enters blends of letters, symbols, and numbers, yet for this situation, they are altogether irregular. brute force assaults can likewise be performed on the web and offline.

Dictionary attacks are brute force attacks in nature acting in a variation of a brute force attack. The lone distinction is that dictionary attacks are more proficient – they normally don’t have to attempt the same number of mixes to succeed. Notwithstanding, if the password is a really novel one, a dictionary assault won’t work. All things considered, utilizing brute-force is the lone choice.

4. Brute force vs Dictionary attack

Brute Force Dictionary Attack
Uses a different kind of possible key combination Uses a list of known passwords
a large number of key combination Limited to certain common keys
Time depends on the password strong and length Time depends on the length of the dictionary.
Example of possible keys:hello,HELLo,Eello,keLLO,FELlo,.. Example of common passwords:iloveyou,12345,54321,ilovemom,ILOVEYOU…
Easy to crack when the key length is small Easy to crack if the password is a common password

5. Prevention

Where customary brute power assaults attempt each conceivable blend efficiently to get through confirmation controls, dictionary assaults utilizes an enormous yet set number of pre-chosen words and expressions. Given that dictionary attacks depend on words regularly utilized as passwords, a solid guard against them is a strong password approach.

Urge clients to make extraordinary passwords – in a perfect world a blend of irregular words with symbols and numbers – not to reuse or share them, and guarantee they are changed if there is a compromise. Password managers give a more automated approach to keep solid passwords without expecting clients to recollect them. “Another added improvement I often recommend is to make sure usernames do not match the email address syntax,” Heiland says. 

The IT division in any association should play it safe to shield their frameworks from dictionary attacks. Online assaults are fairly simple to stop. You can utilize manual human tests, actualize obligatory two-factor validation, and cutoff how often one client can endeavor to sign in before their record is bolted.

Dictionary attack mitigation options include: 

  • Set up multifaceted authentication where conceivable. 
  • Use biometrics in lieu of passwords. 
  • Cutoff the number of attempts permitted inside a given timeframe. 
  • Power account resets after a specific number of bombed attempts. 
  • Rate-limit the speed of password acknowledgment to expand the time and assets required for aggressors to figure the password. 
  • Remember Captchas to forestall computerized log-for endeavors. 
  • Guarantee passwords are encrypted so they are more averse to be spilled.
  • Limit normal words or passwords from being utilized. The NCSC distributes a rundown of regular passwords that shouldn’t be permitted.
  • A staffed Security Operations Center (SOC)can identify occasions of potential dictionary attacks progressively and rapidly react by securing a record, obstructing an IP address, reaching a client, and searching for additional movement from this specific assailant.


Against basic systems, dictionary attacks and brute-force r\ assaults are simple, ensured way in the front entryway. In more complex conditions, these assaults are just helpful when endeavors can mix into ordinary movement or focus on a disconnected password database to break secret word hashes.

In any case, these methods are astounding increases to any security expert’s tool belt, and they accentuate the significance of consistently refreshing solid passwords for end clients. One of the best methods for reducing the success of this style of attack is to train people to move away from short passwords and start using passphrases,” advises Heiland.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.

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