'Brute Force Server Error' when using Internet?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Madelaine M. writes:

" Lately, when I am trying to connect to the Internet, I get a message saying, 'Brute Force Server Error'. When I click the window, the error message disappears. I use Norton Anti-virus 2002 and Spy Sweeper to scan my system for viruses and Spyware. What else should I do to avoid this problem?"

My response:

I can say that I have never heard of this error message before. I did some research using Google, but wasn't able to come up with anything conclusive. However, what I did find is that the term "Brute Force" refers to a form of relentless hacking of a server / web server. The most pertinent description of Brute Force I found was on a web site called passwordhurlerprotection.com:

" One of the most common forms of hacking involves brute force software which ... [attempts toguess the correct username and password of a password-protected area] ... by using a very large list of words[whichare likely to contain valid] username and password combinations. [The large list of words is referred to as a dictionary, and] some dictionary lists can contain over 20,000 words!

The'brute force'process consumes [extreme amounts of] bandwidth and system resources ... If the attacker is on a high speed connection, it can slow [a web site]down and severely degrade its functionality. Once [an] attacker gains access with working codes, he [is then able to]post entrance codes on password trading web sites [so that other hackers can gain entry to the system and cause damage]. Many of the [password trading]web sites are so popular that they get hundreds of thousands of visitors per day.

Unless your server is set up for [the amount of traffic generated by brute force software], this large volume of requests can overwhelm [a] server and cause it to be extremely slow or even crash. Some of the more sever cases of members area security breech can cost the site's owner thousands of dollars in bandwidth expenses. "

Although the scenario described at passwordhurlerprotection.com doesn't apply to Madelaine's computer, it is certainly plausible that her computer has a Trojan installed which (for whatever reason) references the term "Brute Force". Having said that, there are a few other things to check for which may be causing the Brute Force error message to appear:

  1. Browse through the programs listed in your Add / Remove programs in the Control Panel and remove anything that could be related to "Brute Force". To access the Control Panel, Click Start -> Settings -> Control Panel, or Start -> Control Panel for some XP systems.
  2. Look in your Startup Folder / Startup and remove any suspect listings. To access the Startup Folder, click Start -> Programs -> Startup. To access the Windows Startup, read this previous Gazette article on MSConfig.
  3. Scan your registry and remove any "Brute Force" listing using jv16 Power Tools Registry Editor. Jv16 Power Tools was once freeware, but now appears to be Trialware. Should you decide to use jv16 on your system, always backup your Registry before making changes in case something goes wrong!
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