For most people, their passwords are their first line of defense against hackers.
Passwords are necessary, and in all fairness, they keep most people out of your digital affairs.
However, hackers have several ways of stealing passwords. Some of these techniques are simple while others are quite sophisticated.
Fortunately, they are not fool-proof.
Your password can only do so much to deter hackers. You should take extra security measures to seal off all loopholes especially if you are using any of these 28 free password managers.
To do this you will need to learn about how hackers steal passwords.
Here is an insight into 6 common hacking techniques to steal your password.
1. Dictionary Attack
Have you noticed that almost all websites require you to make your password as difficult to guess as possible?
This is because of the risk posed by dictionary attacks.
Dictionary attacks are used to target passwords written in words available in the dictionary; hence the name.
The hackers use a program with a file of all the names in the dictionary and crosscheck the names against the password database.
If the password matches any name in the dictionary it gets pulled up instantly.
The best way to stay safe against a dictionary attack is to make your password complex. Couple uppercase and lowercase letters with numerical numbers and other characters.
Phishing is the most common hacking technique. Millions of people around the world are targeted using phishing attacks every day. It is simple and surprisingly effective.
Phishing preys on human vulnerability. The hackers trick their victims by pretending to be someone known to the victim.
The common technique is to impersonate banks and credit card companies online.
Hackers create look-alike credentials of these companies, including websites and email addresses, and masquerade as the real thing.
They then send out emails that trick recipients into revealing their passwords in a variety of ways.
Phishing targets your vulnerability. You need to keep your passwords secret no matter who asks – remember: even legitimate service providers are not required to know your password.
3. Malware and Spyware Attack
The device you are reading this article on could be bugged and you don’t realize it. Hackers are always developing malicious software that is designed to monitor a device’s usage and record all data on the device.
Keylogger is a popular malware program that records every stroke of every key you press and even takes screenshots of activities on your device.
These programs then send all the collected data back to the hacker.
It is difficult to dodge all the malware and spyware programs out there. The best way to stay safe is to install an anti-virus program that will detect them automatically and neutralize them before they infect your devices. You should also avoid downloading suspicious software from unauthorized platforms.
4. Brute Force Attack
As mentioned, it is prudent to make your password as complex as possible.
However, hackers will still go an extra mile to get to your password no matter how creative you get. They do this through brute force attacks.
Brute force attacks involve the use of complex hacking software.
The hacking software runs on powerful computer chips and cryptographic software to get enough computing power to hack the basic password protection software.
Brute force attacks are not common and in most cases, the victims are usually well-chosen.
Brute force attacks are sophisticated. The best way to protect yourself is by going an extra mile to encrypt your password. Encryption turns your password into a long string of random characters that are difficult to decrypt. It will keep most hackers out.
5. Rainbow Table Attack\
As mentioned, encrypting your password will discourage most hackers. However, dedicated hackers will still find a way to get your password using rainbow table attacks.
Encrypting your password will add an element known as a hash.
In theory, it is impossible to reverse an encrypted and hashed password.
However, it can be done as long as you have the correct hash character. This is where rainbow tables come in.
They essentially are long lists of all hash characters associated with a particular encryption algorithm.
Hackers use these tables to crosscheck against encrypted passwords and reverse the encryption process.
Rainbow table attacks are useless if the password is both encrypted and salted. Salting involves adding several random characters to be password before hashing it. This is the ultimate level of password protection.
6. Social Engineering Attack
Social engineering is a new dynamic form of hacking that doesn’t necessarily involve the use of computer technology.
In this case, hackers come up with elaborate tricks to get their targets to reveal sensitive information via phone or in person.
The common tactic is to impersonate a trusted entity known to the victim.
Social engineering is just another password attack technique that preys on your vulnerability. The best way to stay safe is by keeping your sensitive information private no matter who asks.
It is difficult to provide specific statistics on hacked passwords, as data on successful hacks are often not publicly disclosed or may not be accurately reported.
However, research has shown that certain types of passwords are more likely to be hacked or compromised than others.
One study found that the most common passwords used in data breaches are short and simple, such as “123456,” “password,” and “123456789.”
These types of passwords are easy to guess or crack using automated tools, and they offer very little protection against unauthorized access.
Other research has found that passwords that are based on personal information, such as names, dates of birth, or addresses, are also at higher risk of being hacked.
Hackers may be able to guess or obtain this information through social engineering or other means, and use it to gain access to accounts.
To protect yourself against password-related security threats, it is important to use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and to regularly update your passwords.
A strong password is typically at least 8 characters long and includes a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
It is also a good idea to use a password manager to help you generate and store strong, unique passwords.