How do hackers steal passwords?

Last Updated on 23 August 2023 by Daniel

Hackers use various techniques to steal passwords, and their methods can range from sophisticated technical exploits to social engineering tactics. Here are some common methods hackers use to steal passwords:

  1. Phishing: This is one of the most common methods. Hackers send fake emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, like banks or popular websites. These messages often contain links to fake login pages that closely resemble the real ones. When users enter their credentials on these fake pages, the hackers capture the information.
  2. Keylogging: Keyloggers are malicious software or hardware devices that record every keystroke a user makes on their computer or device. This includes passwords and other sensitive information. The collected data is then sent to the hacker.
  3. Brute Force Attacks: Hackers use automated tools to try every possible combination of characters until they find the correct password. This method requires time and computing power, but weak or easily guessable passwords can be cracked this way.
  4. Credential Stuffing: Hackers use username and password combinations obtained from previous data breaches to attempt to gain unauthorized access to other accounts where users have reused the same credentials.
  5. Social Engineering: This involves manipulating individuals into revealing their passwords. Hackers might impersonate someone in authority or use psychological tactics to trick users into divulging their login credentials.
  6. Malware: Malicious software can be used to steal passwords. For instance, trojans or keyloggers can be installed on a victim’s device through malicious downloads, attachments, or infected websites. These malware variants can capture sensitive information, including passwords.
  7. Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks: In this attack, hackers intercept the communication between a user and a website, server, or service. They can capture login credentials as they’re transmitted between the user and the target.
  8. Session Hijacking: Hackers can steal active session tokens or cookies, allowing them to impersonate the user without needing the actual password.
  9. Baiting: Hackers might leave physical devices like infected USB drives or CDs in a location where a target might find them. When the victim inserts the device into their computer, it installs malware that can steal passwords.
  10. DNS Spoofing: By manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS), hackers can redirect users to fake websites that look legitimate, capturing login credentials when users enter them.

To protect yourself from these methods, follow best practices:

  • Use strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) where available.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails or messages, especially those asking for sensitive information.
  • Keep your software, operating system, and antivirus updated.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from untrusted sources.
  • Use a reputable password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.
  • Regularly monitor your accounts for any unauthorized activity.

Remember that while technology can help, user awareness and caution are crucial to preventing these kinds of attacks.

By Daniel

I'm the founder and CEO of Lionsgate Creative, Password Sentry, and hoodPALS. Besides coding and technology, I also enjoy cycling, photography, and cooking.

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