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4 methods hackers use to steal passwords and how to protect yourself

  • By Chris Jones

    The internet is not as safe as we tend to assume. There are malicious people out there always trying to steal passwords. Passwords are inevitable, and we use them everywhere, from our mobile devices to our email and social media accounts. There have been attempts from many quarters to make the password obsolete. All these attempts have been unsuccessful for the sole reason there is no better alternative.

    Hackers steal passwords to gain access to sensitive personal or business data. Most companies guard their data to avoid expensive lawsuits from clients. Hackers steal data in several ways:

    Brute force attacks

    Brute force attacks are just random sessions of trial and error. The hackers have special software that works tirelessly towards guessing your password. The software runs hundreds of attempt every minute until they crack the password.

    The hackers use what they know about you, such as a child’s birthday, pet’s name, names, or your family members’ names. If the hackers find your social media handles, they can easily use the information there to guess your password.

    Phishing

    Phishing is prevalent, and most people unknowingly fall into the trap. In the phishing attack method, hackers send their unsuspecting victim a very legit-looking email. This email contains a link that redirects the user to a fake website run by the hacker. The site might also ask for login details, which the hackers then get a hold of and proceed to gain access into your accounts.

    There are different forms of phishing:

    • Spear phishing
    • Vishing (Voice phishing)
    • Smishing (SMS phishing)
    • Whaling

    Spidering

    Hackers sometimes bypass personal information mining. They understand that work passwords are typically official and job-related. The hackers make a point of studying corporate terms and facts about their intended target company.

    Spidering, also called web crawling, mostly targets bigger corporates with more online information. These companies mostly have standard passwords, which are easier to crack. Spidering gains Wi-Fi passwords as most routers in many companies have simple passwords derived from business-related data.

    Keylogging

    Keylogging is an attack carried out by malware spread via attachments already infected by malware. Without the help of an antivirus, it is complicated to spot a keylogging attack. The malware hides deep into your file system, logs everything you type, and relays it to the hackers.

    A key logging malware is dangerous because it exposes all online activities to the hackers, including your passwords for your accounts. It is possible to type an email, send it to a few select people, and then hackers get hold of it. The hackers may proceed to extort money from you using the sensitive data in their hands.

    You can protect yourself from hackers using different means:

    Install a VPN

    A VPN is a secure tunnel to the internet, which protects your device from anybody who might be listening in. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, and creates an airtight tunnel that keeps malicious hackers out.  ensures your location also stay hidden from prying eyes, and unlocks any blocked websites.

    Don’t click on email links

    Whatever you do, do not click on any links in any email you are not sure of the origin. If you receive an email purporting to be from a legit source, authenticate its origin first. Check if its URL is Https as opposed to htttp, which is not legit.

    Use a two-factor authentication

    Use two-factor authentication if the option is available. This authentication process means that every time you log in, you have to use your password and additional code. This other code is sent via a different device, which means a hacker cannot gain entry.

    Use a strong password and password manager

    Using a strong and random password ensures that a hacker who tries to use a brute force attack. A strong password contains both upper and lower cases and symbols. To help you remember the long password, use a password manager to help you remember. All you need to do is remember the manager’s master password.

    Conclusion

    Hackers are everywhere, and being too lax about your security might cause you problems. Learn how a hacker works so that you protect yourself. The adage, set a thief to catch a thief comes into perfect play here.

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