The Nerdic
Computers & anything Tech, not just for Geeks

How Hackers are Stealing Passwords and How to Protect Yourself

In today’s technologically-filled world, it doesn’t take a pro hacker to crack a password. The dark web is full of some of the most prevalent password cracking tools. Anyone with average computer knowledge and a desire to harm can pretty much launch an attack. To avoid being an easy target, it is important to educate yourself on the ways that hackers use to gain access to your accounts and how you can protect yourself from being hacked. 

Common Password Cracking Methods

To be able to fully protect your accounts, you need to be aware of the threats that are awaiting you out there:

Brute Force attack

Brute force attack has nothing to do with being smart or subtle. The success and speed of this form of attack largely depend on the computational strength of the attacker, which is why it is not so common among amateur hackers. Brute force attempts every possible alpha-numeric sequence so no single password is secure from it. It, however, does take a lot of resources and time. Therefore, the longer your password, the longer the hacker will take to crack it.

Dictionary Attack

This is where criminals use a portfolio with every word in the dictionary. The words are then run through a computer program until a match is found. The dictionary attack has been found to be the easiest password hacking technique and it is more likely to yield positive results. Also, millions of phrases can be filtered in just a few hours.

Hybrid attack

If you think that you are being clever by replacing letters in your passwords with characters and numbers, such as “[email protected]$$w0rd01, then you need to think again. A hybrid attack checks through this crafty idea. 

This type of attack utilizes a mixture of dictionary phrases with numbers before and after them. It also works by replacing individual letters. This hacking technique can expose passwords that were able to trick the dictionary attack. 

Rainbow Table attack

A rainbow table attack normally takes place offline. Most modern systems store their passwords in coded values called hashes, which are a computer-prompted numerical representation of digits, letters, and special characters. Ideally, hashed passwords are not readable to hackers who have access to their file. But, that is not always the case in the real world. Even hashes can be hacked! Criminals use a table for canceling the hash functions, known as a rainbow table, to unravel users’ passwords. 

How to Protect yourself from Password Theft

After learning all these techniques, you must be wondering how you can protect your accounts and avoid being hacked. Well, this is how:

Use a Password Generator

If you really want to protect your accounts, then you will have to bid goodbye to dictionary phrases and adopt completely random passwords. If you find it difficult to come up with arbitrary streams of letters and characters, don’t hesitate to use random password generators available online for free. Remember, a safe password is one that has ten or more characters. 

Use a Different password for each of your online accounts

Using a similar password for all your online accounts is the worst mistake you can ever do. This is because if a hacker manages to hack one of your accounts, then it means they have access to all of your accounts and can really mess you up.

Data breaches are extremely on the rise and they especially target user logins. Did you know that your hacked email and password are sold on dark websites for very few dollars? Yes, and the assumption surrounding these kinds of transactions is that the login credentials can be used on several accounts; which is often correct.

To conclude

Even with their many flaws, passwords remain the most commonly used security measures. It is, therefore, important that we learn how to maximize their effectiveness. Criminals are constantly learning new ways of how to get into our accounts. That’s why we should educate ourselves on the current threats and determine the correct ways to protect ourselves.

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