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Rainbow Table Attack vs Dictionary Attack

Last Updated : 11 Apr, 2024
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Rainbow Table Attacks and dictionary attacks are the kinds of vector attacks in a computer system, the passwords are hashed using encryption rather than being saved as plain text directly where an attacker uses every word in a dictionary as a potential password to gain access to a password-protected system. The speed at which a password may be cracked is a key consideration when deciding between a dictionary attack and a rainbow table.

What is a Rainbow Table Attack?

In Rainbow Table Attack in a computer system, the passwords are hashed using encryption rather than being saved as plain text directly. A hash function cannot be decrypted since it is a 1-way function. Passwords are hashed and compared to the previously saved hash value each time a user inputs one.

A rainbow table database is used to get authentication via password hash cracking. To determine which plaintext password generates a given hash, one may use a precomputed dictionary of plaintext passwords and their related hash values. It doesn’t matter what the original password was as long as several texts generate the same hash more than one text may yield the same hash.

Advantages of Rainbow Table Attack

Below are some advantages of the rainbow table attack

  • It is not necessary to know the precise password. It makes no difference if the text isn’t the actual password if the hash matches. It’s going to be verified.
  • A precomputed set of hash values breaks password databases whose data isn’t stored in plaintext.
  • If the password is easy or popular and the vocabulary is tiny, a dictionary attack is quicker than a rainbow table.
  • This is not a brute-force attack. The hash function can be performed easily because everything has been precomputed. It’s reduced to just a straight forward table search and comparison because all of the numbers have already been calculated.

Disadvantages of Rainbow Table Attack

Below are some disadvantages of the rainbow table attack

  • Rainbow Table Attack reduces to a straightforward search and compares processes on the table because all of the numbers have previously been calculated.
  • Store tables need a substantial quantity of storage and fulfill the password breach for this attack.
  • To create this, the table takes a long time and a lot of storage space, and it may be avoided by pre-hashing the password with a random number known as a salt.
  • Using specialized software or scripts, rainbow table attacks may be automated, eliminating the need for human participation and enabling attackers to quickly and effectively break a large number of password hashes and also create redundancy.

What is Dictionary Attack?

A dictionary attack is a vector attack as a potential password to gain access to a password-protected system where an attacker utilizes every word in a dictionary. A dictionary attack uses default log-in credentials or often uses passwords to gain access to computers. These include short words and straight forward numerical sequences such as password123, 987654, and 12345.

The brute-force type of attack, which tests every conceivable character and space combination up to a predetermined maximum length, may sometimes be successful in systems with strict password restrictions. The dictionary may include terms from an English dictionary as well as some leaked lists of frequently used passwords. When paired with regular character substitutions for numbers, the dictionary can sometimes be very quick and efficient.

Advantages of Dictionary Attack

Below are some advantages of a dictionary attack

  • Dictionary attacks have the benefit of being quick and easy to execute because they simply need to compare the hashed password with the dictionary’s hashed word list.
  • These are frequently effective due to the widespread usage of popular words and phrases as passwords. These are popular passwords that attackers may easily find using a well-curated dictionary and also it is simple and fast.
  • Attackers may increase their chances of success by customizing dictionary lists depending on specific criteria, such as frequently used passwords, terms often used in a certain language or business, or even personal information about the target individual.
  • Dictionary attacks, in contrast to brute force attacks, are more focused and produce less “noise” by attempting an infinite number of letter combinations.

Disadvantages of Dictionary Attack

Below are some disadvantages of dictionary attack

  • To recognize complicated or unusual passwords inability that are not in dictionaries or that employ unique hashing techniques.
  • Passwords with a random letter, symbol, and number like a 123 password combination are common to dictionary attacks.
  • It is against the law and immoral to launch dictionary attacks without the required authority. Participating in such actions may result in criminal prosecutions as well as civil fines.
  • Recurrently unsuccessful login attempts, sophisticated intrusion detection systems can identify and prevent these attacks by frequently checking the process of this attack.

Difference between Rainbow Table Attack and Dictionary Attack

Rainbow Table Attack

Dictionary Attack

Rainbow Table Attack, In a computer system, the passwords are hashed using encryption rather than being saved as plain text directly.

A dictionary attack is an attack vector where an attacker uses every word in a dictionary as a potential password to gain access to a password-protected system.

If the password is complicated or unusual and the dictionary is huge, a rainbow table outperforms a dictionary attack in terms of speed.

If the password is easy or popular and the vocabulary is tiny, a dictionary attack is quicker than a rainbow table.

Salting, a method that involves pre-hashing a password with a random value, can affect rainbow tables.

Password regulations that mandate complexity and originality, including minimum length, character diversity, or changing the password every few months, can prevent dictionary attacks.

The whole table must be stored in a rainbow table and the size of the table can vary greatly based on the variety and difficulty of the passwords.

Depending on the quantity and length of the words, a dictionary attack simply requires storing the dictionary file, which might be rather tiny.


So this is a Rainbow table attack vs a dictionary attack. Rainbow Table Attack in a computer system, the passwords are hashed using encryption rather than being saved as plain text directly, And on the other hand a dictionary attack is a kind of attack vector where an attacker uses every word in a dictionary as a potential password to gain access to a password-protected system.

Frequently Asked Questions on Rainbow Table Attack and Dictionary Attack – FAQs

How does a rainbow table help an attacker?

The term “rainbow table” refers to a table that has been precomputed and holds the hash value of each password for each character used in plain text during the authentication procedure. Hackers can swiftly crack all passwords using a rainbow table if they have access to the list of hashes.

Can a rainbow table be used to improve password security?

Rainbow tables provide security administrators with a tool to confirm that password security standards are met, but they also allow hackers a simple means of cracking passwords and gaining unauthorized access to computer systems.

How do you protect against rainbow table attacks?

You should use strong, complicated passwords, activate two-factor authentication, and update your passwords often to protect yourself against a Rainbow Table Attack.

How are rainbow tables generated?

Rainbow tables are generated by running a software application known as an”algorithm” over a large password data set to know the user’s password.

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