Business Productivity

Combat password spraying with AWS AppFabric

In today’s digital landscape, businesses heavily rely on software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to streamline operations and enhance employee productivity. The adoption of these applications requires a scalable security solution to address the growing number of digital identities created across multiple platforms, introducing vulnerabilities such as password spraying attacks. According to a recent Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) report, “as the number of [digital] identities increases, more businesses are suffering identity-related incidents and are identifying securing them as a critical priority.” The report also states that 31% of surveyed companies experienced brute force attacks, including password spraying, in 2023. This blog post aims to shed light on password spraying, its implications for businesses, and how AWS AppFabric, a fully-managed service that enhances security observability, helps security teams detect and mitigate threats like password spraying.

What is password spraying?

Password spraying is a type of cyber attack where the attacker attempts to access multiple user accounts by systematically trying a few commonly used passwords against each account, rather than trying numerous password combinations on a single account. Unlike traditional brute-force attacks, which attempt to guess a single account’s password by trying every possible combination until successful, password spraying is a more sophisticated and efficient approach. Password spraying involves trying a small set of common passwords across a large number of accounts, taking advantage of the tendency for users to reuse passwords or choose easily guessable ones. This makes password spraying particularly effective against companies that do not enforce strong passwords, have not implemented multi-factor authentication, or where password sharing is prevalent.

How password spraying works

Password spraying attacks typically follow a two-step process. First, the attacker obtains a list of usernames or email addresses associated with the target organization. Attackers find these lists through various means such as data breaches, public data leaks, or social engineering tactics. With the username list in hand, the attacker then methodically attempts to log in to each account using a small set of commonly used passwords. These passwords may be derived from popular password lists or based on patterns and words that users frequently choose, such as “Password123” or names of sports teams. The attacker automates this process, rapidly trying the same few passwords across numerous accounts. This approach is designed to slip under the radar of many traditional security measures, which may be more focused on detecting brute-force attempts against individual accounts. By spreading the login attempts across multiple accounts, the attacker increases their chances of success without triggering account lockouts or raising immediate suspicion to a security team monitoring software for anomalous behavior.

Business impact of password spraying attacks

The consequences of a successful password spraying attack can be devastating for businesses. From a financial standpoint, compromised accounts can lead to fraudulent purchases, data theft, and costly recovery efforts, including incident response, system remediation, and potential regulatory fines. Beyond the direct monetary losses, password spraying attacks can also inflict severe reputational damage and erode customer trust. News of a security breach, especially one involving customer data or financial information, can tarnish a company’s brand image and make customers question the organization’s ability to safeguard their sensitive details. This loss of trust can translate into reduced sales, customer attrition, and long-term revenue impacts. Furthermore, once an attacker gains a foothold within an organization’s systems, they can potentially increase their activities, leading to more extensive data breaches, system disruptions, or even holding critical data or systems for ransom. Businesses must recognize the domino effect that a seemingly innocuous password spraying attack can trigger and ensure security observability across their SaaS applications.

Enhance observability and defend against password spraying with AppFabric

To effectively defend against the threat of password spraying attacks, businesses must implement a multi-layered security strategy. One crucial component is the deployment of advanced login detection systems capable of identifying suspicious login patterns and attempts across many accounts. By integrating with multiple SaaS applications, AppFabric collects and normalizes audit logs from disparate data sources into a standard schema. At its core, AppFabric acts as a unified security layer, integrating with a wide range of SaaS applications. Using data from AppFabric, organizations can implement mitigation techniques described in the MITRE ATT&CK knowledge base for password spraying. For example, organizations can create a single dashboard in their preferred security tool with a unified view of the login activity from multiple SaaS applications. With this view, organizations can quickly identify patterns that could indicate a password spraying attack, such as login failures that span multiple accounts in one or more SaaS applications in rapid succession.

AppFabric data also contains the information necessary to spot instances where a user has not configured multi-factor authentication – a multi-step account login process that requires users to enter more information than just a password. Organizations can create automated alerts in their security tool that proactively notifies the security team when these patterns appear in the data. And because AppFabric normalizes the data into a single format using a standard schema for common security events called the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), any dashboards or alerts organizations create automatically apply to all SaaS applications connected to AppFabric.

This centralized approach enables organizations to monitor user activities and events across their SaaS application landscape. Security teams can choose to send their integrated SaaS data to a data lake, like Amazon Security Lake or a supported security tool, giving them the opportunity to run advanced analytics and enhance observability. Insights gained from this data enables organizations to respond quickly and implement countermeasures.

Get started with AppFabric

Connect your SaaS applications today with AppFabric’s 30-day free tier or get started in three simple steps – 1) create an AWS account, 2) connect and authorize your SaaS applications, and 3) start using AWS AppFabric – no coding required. Watch this episode of AWS onAir: LockDown! How to enhance your security posture across SaaS applications to see how it’s done.


Password spraying attacks pose a significant threat to businesses, with the potential to cause financial losses, operational disruptions, and reputational damage. Understanding the nature of these attacks and implementing counter security measures helps organizations keep their SaaS applications safe. In this blog, we discussed how AppFabric helps organizations defend against security threats, like password spraying, and enhances security observability across SaaS applications. We also covered how to get started with AppFabric to secure your SaaS applications in three steps. To build your own security solution, read our blog post Build a security monitoring solution with AWS AppFabric and Amazon Security Lake.

Disclaimer: this post was partially generated using artificial intelligence (AI)

Daina Martin

Daina Martin

Daina is a customer-obsessed Product Marketing Manager with cross-industry experience spanning content development and brand marketing for startups and enterprises. She supports AWS AppFabric at Amazon Web Services, a service that helps IT and security teams manage and secure SaaS applications.

Bobby Williams

Bobby Williams

Bobby is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS. He has decades of experience designing, building, and supporting enterprise software solutions that scale globally. He works on solutions across industry verticals and horizontals and is driven to create a delightful experience for every customer.