Difference Between Brute Force and Dictionary Attack

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Brute Force and Dictionary Attack

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A cyberattack is any hostile activity taken against computer information systems, computer networks, infrastructures, or personal computing devices. A person or process that makes unauthorized, potentially malicious efforts to access data and functions in other restricted areas of the system is known as an attacker. Depending on the circumstance, cyberattacks may be a component of either cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. A cyberattack may be launched by an unidentified source and may be utilized by independent countries, private citizens, social groupings, or organizations. A product, also known as a "cyber weapon," facilitates a cyberattack. By breaking into a vulnerable system, a cyberattack can steal from, change, or even destroy a specific target. Cyberattacks can take many different forms, from the placement of malware on a user's computer to attempts to compromise the infrastructure of whole countries. Legal experts want to restrict the term's use to instances that result in physical harm, setting it apart from more commonplace data breaches and expansive hacking activity.

Cybersecurity refers to actions done to prevent unauthorized access and illegal use of Internet-connected devices, networks, and data. Furthermore, cybersecurity guarantees the privacy, accuracy, and availability of data across its full life cycle. Information on the Internet, as well as software and hardware, are all covered by cybersecurity. It can safeguard everything, including intricate government systems and private information. Cybersecurity measures cover cyberattack detection, prevention, and response. Any data kept on a computer system, network, or device connected to the Internet is vulnerable to hacking. This can be avoided by taking the right precautions. Cybersecurity is now crucial since the world depends on computers more than ever. Cybersecurity can be straightforward or complicated. Most gadgets have password protection as a standard security feature to thwart hackers. Software updates are another simple technique to stop cyberattacks. Depending on the sort of attack, specific actions may be conducted if a system is attacked or at risk of assault. One method of preventing assaults is encryption, and specific antivirus programs can identify unusual online behaviour and stop the majority of software attacks.

Depending on the sort of attack, specific actions may be conducted if a system is attacked or at risk of assault. One method of preventing assaults is encryption, and specific antivirus programs can identify unusual online behaviour and stop the majority of software attacks. Understanding the dangers and vulnerabilities unique to that particular device or network, as well as whether or not hackers may exploit those weaknesses, is crucial for ensuring that a system is safe. Cyberattacks can also be linked to cyber warfare or cyberterrorism, such as hacktivists, in addition to cybercrime. To put it another way, motives can differ. There are three basic kinds of these motivations: criminal, political, and personal. Attackers with criminal intent aim to profit financially through data theft, money theft, or company interruption. Similar to this, those who are personally motivated, like displeased current or former workers, will steal money, data, or even just the chance to interfere with a business's system. However, they mainly aim to exact revenge. Attackers with socio-political motives try to draw attention to their issues. They consequently publicize their attacks, a practice known as hacktivism.

Brute Force vs. Dictionary Attack

Criminals employ a variety of strategies to target users' systems, but Brute Force and Dictionary attacks are the most popular ones. It is a type of cybersecurity attack that can be used to access sensitive information on a user's computer and utilize it for financial benefit. While the account is locked, cybercriminals try using alternative passwords by employing passphrases. Simple techniques like dictionary attacks and brute force attacks let hackers in. Two different kinds of cyber security assaults are dictionary attacks and brute force attacks. The attacker attempts various key combinations and potential passwords until they locate the appropriate one to get access to a user's account. Attackers on computer security are aware of and observe the behaviours of simple users, which they later use to gain access to both online and offline user profiles.

The primary distinction between a brute force assault and a dictionary attack is that a brute force attack entails the usage of a large number of key combinations to essentially "guess" a password. A dictionary attack, on the other hand, involves the attacker entering passwords from a pre-set list of likely passwords.

Difference between Brute Force and Dictionary Attack in tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Brute Force Dictionary Attack
Definition Every conceivable passcode combination is tried by the attacker. A pre-assembled list of well-known passcodes is used by the attacker.
Effectiveness If the passcode is brief, brute force is more successful. If the passcode is frequently used, Dictionary Attack will work better.
Time Influencing Factors The length and security of the passcode affect how long it takes. The length of the dictionary affects how long it takes.
Quantity of keys There are numerous key combinations used. There are a set number of keys that can be used for this.
Primary Function Typically, this is done to attack encryption methods. Typically, password attacks use this method.

What is Brute Force?

Cybercriminals use specialized tools called brute force attacks to try every possible combination of letters and digits to try to guess passwords. For breaking storage passwords, these tools are really helpful. Cybercriminals use Brute Force attacks to try and guess passwords that contain special characters as well as symbols, numbers, and letters. Since every password has weaknesses, they are all susceptible to hacking. However, a strong and lengthy password could take a little longer to decipher. Four-digit or short passwords can be cracked using brute force attacks in about a minute, but six-character credentials can take up to an hour to crack. However, if a password is robust and contains a range of characters, it can take several days to crack it. In a Brute Force Password Attack, each additional letter makes it more difficult to locate the credential.

Brute force attack is a technique for cryptographic hacking that entails obtaining unauthorized access to login credentials or encryption keys by systematically probing the full key space of the algorithm. Tools are typically utilized to complete this laborious work because it doesn't call for any intellectual effort. Attackers on computer security can use a variety of programs to try every conceivable combination of numbers, letters, and special characters in the hopes of finally finding the appropriate password and getting access to a user's data. These tools can be set up to include or exclude letters, numbers, and symbols as long as the attacker is aware of the organization's password design requirements. When attempting to crack passwords that are not in the right order, advanced brute force assaults frequently make certain assumptions. Using brute force assaults, four-digit or short passwords can be broken in approximately a minute, but six-character credentials can take up to an hour. It may take several days to crack a password that is strong and has a variety of characters, though. Each additional letter makes it more challenging to locate the credential in a Brute Force Password Attack.

 For example, the first character will probably be capitalized, etc. The vulnerability of a password to such a brute force attack depends on its length. Within a minute, a four-digit pin might be broken. The process of creating a six-character password can take an hour. If there are eight characters—letters and special characters—in it, the procedure could take days. With each extra character, the power and hence the time needed to break it increase dramatically. Every password, regardless of its strength or length, is susceptible to this kind of assault, thus it's crucial to remember that. If the attacker has enough time and processing power, the password will eventually be made public. If you keep trying, you can crack a password even if a brute force attack takes years to do it.

What is Dictionary Attack?

Dictionary attacks operate around the fundamental tenet that most users choose common phrases from existing languages and password trends to protect their data and devices because they are unable or unwilling to remember complex passwords. The foundation of a dictionary attack is a list of commonly used passphrases. The term these attacks come from the fact that they initially used dictionary words. But in the modern era, several passcode lists made up of numbers taken from successful security breaches in the past can be easily discovered online.

Cybercriminals use every string in a wordlist with the hope and expectation that they can learn the password from previous website visits. These attacks work best with passwords based on simple phrases, like "Longhorns." Additionally, the wordlist includes popular passwords like me, I love you, 12345, [email protected], 987654, allow me, etc. in addition to English terms. However, administrators and users are no longer able to set straightforward passwords that are simple to guess thanks to new hardware and software. To avoid dictionary attacks, administrators and users must create complex passwords that are not obvious, such as date of birth or phone number, or that combine these two elements with other characters.

By looking at trends and patterns noticed among users when constructing passwords, the dictionary is developed. They may even contain important details about the target (such as dates of birth and anniversaries or the names of any pets). A dictionary attack is a powerful technique for breaking simple word-based passwords. But most contemporary systems forbid and discourage their users from setting such straightforward passwords, forcing them to come up with tougher and more original ones that won't appear on a wordlist instead. The length of time needed to try the break-in and its likelihood of success depend on how exhausting the dictionary is. One type of brute force attack that takes advantage of unsophisticated users that employ non-unique passcodes is the dictionary attack. Here, the hacker makes use of a list of words and phrases that are frequently used by people and organizations that could be used as passwords to access secured computers, networks, or other IT resources.

The answer to breaking any type of cryptography is exhaustive key searches, although these can take a very long time. When an attacker is confident that the password, they are trying to break contains specific words, phrases, or a number and letter combinations, creating a dictionary of potential combinations and using that can be accomplished much more quickly. The answer to breaking any type of cryptography is exhaustive key searches, although these can take a very long time. When an attacker is confident that the password, they are trying to break contains specific words, phrases, or a number and letter combinations, creating a dictionary of potential combinations and using that can be accomplished much more quickly.

Difference Between Brute Force and Dictionary Attack In Points

  • The software performs a separate brute force assault on each character of a passcode, pin, etc. by the guidelines followed when creating the password, which determines the key space’s size. To determine the whole password, the software uses a Dictionary Attack method of trial and error.
  • When it comes to efficacy, a short password is better for brute force. This is necessary because if a password had more characters, it may take a brute force attack anything from a few seconds to several years to crack it. A dictionary is more likely to contain a password that is frequently used or that follows a standard template, making dictionary assaults more effective.
  • Brute forces can be helpful when the algorithm's key space is big and there are many key combinations and permutations involved. Dictionary attacks are the preferred method of handling passwords when the key space is significantly smaller and the passwords have clear patterns.
  • Brute force attacks are widely employed to crack encryption methods since they are usually made up of random integer sequences. Dictionary attacks are widely used to attack and crack passwords because they frequently contain terms and patterns that can be decoded by an encyclopaedic dictionary.
  • Given enough time, brute force attacks are certain to be successful. But it's important to note that "sufficient" might refer to anything from a few seconds to a lifetime. The dictionary's depth determines whether a Dictionary Attack is successful.


After weighing all the information, it can be concluded that while the Brute Force attack and Dictionary attack are both popular methods for breaching cyber security, their modes of operation, objectives, length of the process, and success rates are very different and are influenced by a wide range of variables. Brute Force attacks tackle the task one character at a time, are better suited for encryption techniques, can take any length of time, and, subject to the time factor, are typically successful in achieving their objectives. Dictionary Attack completes the process one password at a time, is better at breaking passcodes, and can be finished in the same amount of time as testing every word in the dictionary, but it cannot be relied upon to work.

Dictionary and brute-force assaults are quick and sure-fire ways to get in through the front door. These attacks are only effective in more complex setups when they can imitate normal behaviour or target an offline password database to decrypt password hashes. Nevertheless, these methods are great additions to any security expert's toolkit and underscore the value of end users creating and updating strong passwords frequently.


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"Difference Between Brute Force and Dictionary Attack." Diffzy.com, 2023. Sat. 03 Jun. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-brute-force-and-dictionary-attack-873>.

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