Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


What's a dictionary attack?

Dave, our IT people just sent out a note warning about "dictionary attacks" on our server, but I really have no idea what a dictionary attack is. Can you enlighten me?

The first time I heard this phrase, I have to admit that I had visions of mad academics chasing after innocent people, hurling weighty tomes and yelling obscure and polysyllabic imprecations, but it turns out that a dictionary attack is much more plebeian and mundane.

There are really two different kinds of dictionary attacks that I know of, actually, so let's start with the simpler...