Optiv Cybersecurity Dictionary

What is a Brute Force Attack?

A brute force attack is a trial and error method for attempting to crack a password, username or data encryption key. The term comes from the fact that the approach relies on intensive effort (“brute force”) rather than employing more sophisticated techniques.


Brute force can be used on any encrypted data, although its effectiveness wanes in the face of longer, more complex or information-theoretically secure passwords. Longer codes and keys are exponentially more difficult to crack, and depending on these factors, a brute force attack might take anywhere from a few seconds to many years.

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