In recent years, we’ve seen the explosion of compromised credentials as a primary cause of data breaches. Hackers have dozens of ways of stealing your credentials and the complexity of their techniques increases with each passing day. In some cases, there’s not much you can do to stop well-funded adversaries from compromising your account. That being said, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of password security attacks.
In this article, we look at the common methods hackers use to break into password-protected systems. Read on to learn how hackers are stealing passwords to protect your own.
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Hackers can sneak malware into your device to steal your login credentials. Malware is software created to compromise a system and steal sensitive data. Malware can be in the form of a virus, Trojan, or keyloggers – a form of spyware that keeps a record of the keys you type and where you type them.
Phishing is a very common technique in password hacking. In a phishing attack, hackers send an email posing as a legitimate institution to trick users into providing sensitive data. Hackers send phishing emails for the sole purpose of stealing sensitive information such as your bank account details or passwords.
A man-in-the-middle attack is a sneaky password hacking technique where the hacker intercepts the traffic between the user’s device and the server. The attacker can view the websites you visit, your login credentials, and the messages you send. Man-in-the-middle attacks are mostly used to target users connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
Brute Force Attacks
A brute force attack is exactly what it sounds like, in the sense that no subtlety is involved. Hackers use tools that can crack your password by simply keying in different alphanumeric combinations until it’s cracked. While no password is safe from this attack, longer, more complex passwords take a lot of time and resources to crack with brute force.
A dictionary attack is one of the easiest password cracking techniques to execute. It’s also one of the most effective methods. The hacker uses a computer program to run a file with every word found in the dictionary until they find a match.
By replacing letters with numbers and characters, one can prevent a dictionary attack. However, hackers also use a hybrid technique, an approach that combines dictionary words and number that precede and follow them. A hybrid attack may be used to crack passwords that trick a dictionary attack by adding a few digits.
How to Protect Your Passwords
With all the techniques that hackers can use to compromise your password, effectively protecting your credentials may seem like an impossible task. However, there are certain steps you can take to minimize the risk of password hacking. For instance, you can:
1. Use a password generator: Random password generator tools help you create strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Strong passwords can only be cracked using advanced brute force attacks, meaning that you are safe from the other common password hacking techniques.
2. Use a password manager: Password manager apps help you store all your passwords safely. You don’t have to remember all of them. With a password manager, the only password you have to remember is the password to the app itself and you’re good to go.
3. Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2-FA) provides an extra layer of security to protect against phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks. No matter how strong your password is, you still need protection from these attacks.
4. Download a VPN app: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your online traffic and effectively protects your data from hackers and other malicious elements online. It is particularly useful when you are connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Despite their flaws, passwords are the most common form of authentication in the internet age. With password hacking attacks becoming more complex every day, we must strive to ensure that our defenses are up to date at all times. We can do this by learning how to maximize the effectiveness of our passwords.