Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification
A Community Resource for Identifying and Understanding Attacks
In a Password Spraying attack, an adversary tries a small list (e.g. 3-5) of common or expected passwords, often matching the target's complexity policy, against a known list of user accounts to gain valid credentials. The adversary tries a particular password for each user account, before moving onto the next password in the list. This approach assists the adversary in remaining undetected by avoiding rapid or frequent account lockouts. The adversary may then reattempt the process with additional passwords, once enough time has passed to prevent inducing a lockout. Password Spraying attacks often target management services over commonly used ports such as SSH, FTP, Telnet, LDAP, Kerberos, MySQL, and more. Additional targets include Single Sign-On (SSO) or cloud-based applications/services that utilize federated authentication protocols, and externally facing applications. Successful execution of Password Spraying attacks usually lead to lateral movement within the target, which allows the adversary to impersonate the victim or execute any action that the victim is authorized to perform. If the password chosen by the user is commonly used or easily guessed, this attack will be successful (in the absence of other mitigations). This is a specific instance of the password brute forcing attack pattern.
Password Spraying Attacks are similar to Dictionary-based Password Attacks (CAPEC-16) in that they both leverage precompiled lists (i.e. dictionaries) of username/password combinations to try against a system/application. The primary difference is that Password Spraying Attacks leverage a known list of user accounts and only try one password for each account before moving onto the next password. In contrast, Dictionary-based Password Attacks leverage unknown username/password combinations and are often executed offline against files containing hashed credentials, where inducing an account lockout is not a concern.
Password Spraying Attacks are also similar to Credential Stuffing attacks (CAPEC-600), since both utilize known user accounts and often attack the same targets. Credential Stuffing attacks, however, leverage known username/password combinations, whereas Password Spraying attacks have no insight into known username/password pairs. If a Password Spraying attack succeeds, it may additionally lead to Credential Stuffing attacks on different targets.
The table below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
The table below shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
A machine with sufficient resources for the job (e.g. CPU, RAM, HD). Applicable password lists. A password cracking tool or a custom script that leverages the password list to launch the attack.
The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.
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