A significant number of important transactions happen over the internet these days. While an increasingly connected world makes life easier, it also poses a great risk as we expose sensitive data to hackers and other cybercriminals online. Hackers follow the path of least resistance to their targets, which leads to users with self-managed simple factor passwords. Reports indicate an increase in the number of data breaches involving weak or stolen passwords in the last few years.
Hackers use a bunch of different ways to steal your password, it’s easier than you think. However, there are some measures that you can take to prevent password attacks and stay safe. Here are the most common password attacks and how to prevent them.
In a phishing attack, hackers send fake emails masquerading as legitimate to unsuspecting users. These kinds of emails appear to have come from well-known people or organizations such as the company you work for or your bank. Usually, the email contains a link to a page that is identical to, for instance, your online banking. When you type your login credentials, the information goes directly to the hackers.
In a man-in-the-middle attack, hackers intercept the traffic between your device and the server. This allows the attacker to view your login credentials, messages you send, and all the pages that you visit. Man-in-the-middle attacks are common and mostly target users on public Wi-Fi networks. For instance, hackers can steal your credit card info when doing online shopping on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.
Brute Force Attack
In a brute force attack, hackers use computer programs or scripts to try and log in with possible password combinations. A brute force attack works through every possible alphanumeric combination, which means that no password is safe from this kind of password attack. Brute force attacks take time and resources to pull off. The speed and effectiveness of the attack are contingent on the attacker’s computing power.
A dictionary attack is one of the simplest password cracking techniques out there. Hackers use a program or script to try and login into your account by cycling through a combination of common words. A dictionary attack tries possibilities which are most likely to succeed, typically using a list of all the words in a dictionary.
Cybercriminals often use hidden malware to execute password attacks. Malware refers to malicious programs written to compromise a system and steal sensitive data. In most cases, is smuggled onto your device in fake applications that record everything you do on the device.
Other common password attacks are hybrid attacks and rainbow table attacks. Hybrid attacks use a combination of dictionary words and numbers following and preceding them to crack passwords. Rainbow table attacks reverse hash functions to decode files with hashed passwords.
How to Protect Your Password
Even with numerous password cracking techniques out there, it’s still possible to protect your passwords and stay safe. Here’s how.
- Use a VPN when on public Wi-Fi. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic making it impossible for hackers to intercept your data even when you are connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
- Enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication combines something you know (your password) and something in your possession (your phone) to add an extra layer of security. Enable 2-FA to protect against phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks.
- Password Generator. Use a password generator tool to create strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Then use a password manager to store your passwords safely so that you don’t have to memorize all of them.
The only way to crack a strong password is through a brute force attack. However, the longer and more complex the password is, the harder it is to crack with brute force. Using a password generator to create strong, unique passwords for all your accounts is the most effective way to protect yourself from password attacks. Since strong passwords can be difficult to remember, use a password manager tool to store all your passwords safely without having to memorize them.