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Protect Yourself: Understanding the Various Techniques Hackers Use to Steal Passwords

Cracked Password

You’ve probably heard it a million times? Keep your passwords strong, unique, and under wraps. Don’t go clicking on shady links and change your passwords often. Let’s not forget about tucking them away in a cozy and encrypted password manager. The advice list is true, but never ending.

What if you check all those boxes and your password still ends up in the wrong hands? It’s a legitimate worry. How can you keep yourself safe from all the password stealing scams out there, and the damage that can potentially come with them?

The truth is you can never keep yourself 100% safe from anything. But you can try your best. It starts by taking a step back and understanding the ways that your password, emails, and usernames could be potentially compromised.

How do hackers try to steal your password?

There are many ways that hackers can go about stealing your password and other login information, especially when it comes to tricking you, but all the methods go back to the basics. Here are some of the methods hackers employ:

Password Spraying: Attackers may attempt to log in to your accounts by trying random common passwords and seeing if anything hits.

Credential Stuffing: Hackers test lists of stolen credentials against multiple accounts to see if there’s a match. If you use the same password across different sites, these hackers have a good chance of finding a match.

Phishing: Phishing attempts are one of the most common ways that hackers can get your password. It’s a social engineering tactic where they attempt to trick you into providing your login credentials. Phishing often takes place through emails or messages.

Extortion: Extortion is more aggressive when hackers demand passwords through threats.

Keyloggers: Another way is to get you to download malware onto your device, which is capable of capturing everything you type, including your passwords.

Brute force attacks: This is a trial-and-error method of stealing passwords by employing an algorithm that attempts to crack passwords by trying every possible combination.

Local discovery: This is when hackers are physically able to find your passwords that are written down or stored insecurely. Perhaps they break into your home and steal a list of passwords on a notepad in your office desk drawer. Or they find a way to use malware to hack into your password storage software.

Once hackers get the information they need, they can access your various accounts and potentially wreak havoc.

How to Keep Your Passwords Safe

In addition to the basics we mentioned earlier (like changing your passwords often) there are other strategies you can use to help protect yourself.

Use strong, unique passwords: This is one you probably know, but your password should be long and contain a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Reset your password often: The more often you reset or change your password, the harder it is for hackers to guess it.

Enable two-factor authentication: This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by sending a code to your device or email address.

Check your bank accounts often: One of the most common reasons that a hacker tries to steal your password is to have access to your bank account.

Don’t download suspicious apps: This goes without saying, but if you’re downloading an app from a third-party app store or someone sends you an invitation to download an app, it is best not to do it.

Don’t use public devices or sensitive information: If you must use a public or someone else’s device, create a guest user account, use private browsing, and sign out of your account before leaving the device and clearing the history.

Be careful on public Wi-Fi: In addition to being careful with public devices you also need to be cautious connecting to public Wi-Fi. Hackers lurk here, waiting for people to connect to these often unsecured networks.

Do regular software updates on your devices: Clever hackers can find ways to install malware on your device. But by doing software updates regularly, you stay one step ahead of their tricks.

Have good antivirus software: Always have reputable, updated antivirus software installed and running on your computer.

Hopefully, knowing the common tactics hackers use to steal your passwords and how to limit your exposure will keep your digital life safe. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an IT Evaluation for your business, contact PTS today.

PTS Computer Network Services web site administrator.