Hackers only need one weak password to compromise applications or accounts and gain access to private files besides troves of data.
Even though password cracking is a common cyberattack, the consequences shouldn’t be ignored.
Stolen passwords can harm a company’s reputation and financial standing through data theft, identity theft, and operational downtime.
Here we focus on the top four methods hackers use to crack passwords and how you can avoid them.
Sometimes hackers take advantage of psychological vulnerabilities in people, while other times the compromise occurs due to malicious software being installed on the systems.
Additionally, hackers are exploiting passwords by using pre-made solutions or malicious bots.
Therefore, understanding how passwords can be stolen by hackers can aid IT professionals in raising awareness within their companies and defending them against dangerous online threats.
Top Four Methods Or Techniques:
1. Social Engineering
Social engineering is a form of psychological manipulation where the target is persuaded to engage in undesirable behaviour.
And one of the most popular ways to use social engineering is through phishing.
According to research, phishing caused $1.8 billion in business losses worldwide and was the top complaint among both individuals and businesses.
Hackers can trick you into giving them sensitive information by posing as friends, family, or business partners that you are familiar with.
Example: To get people to download a supposedly important document, complete their KYC by clicking a link, or change their passwords, hackers may pose as government officials or bank employees. As a result, hackers are given backdoor access to users’ personal data or systems.
• Multifactor authentication should be used
• Be wary of emails that include attachments and check the sender before clicking any links or downloading any files.
2. Brute Force Attack
By using brute force, hackers attempt to break into your account by using widely used and known passwords.
Dictionary attacks, in which hackers test every word in a dictionary, are one type of brute force attack.
Another way is when data is compromised and hackers gain access to the password’s hash.
Using an algorithm, hashing is the process of mapping data of any quantity to a predetermined length.
Between May and mid-June of 2021, brute force attacks increased by 160%.
An illustration of this is when hackers attempt to access someone’s account by making mistakes. Utilizing automation makes the process much simpler and quicker.
• Use 16-character passwords, at least some of which should be special.
• Password salts should be used. Hackers cannot break plain passwords because salts are considered random data which are added to the beginning, middle, or end of the password.
3. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) Attack
In an MITM attack, as the name implies, hackers place themselves in between the user and the client, gather all the data, and then use it for their own evil ends.
In order to listen in on the conversation, the attacker compromises servers, including HTTPS connections to websites.
A hacker might actively eavesdrop on a conversation by getting in touch with both parties and having a conversation with them, giving the impression that they are conversing with one another.
Instead, by being in the “middle,” the hacker has access to the entire conversation.
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• Both users and clients can be protected by using an SSL VPN, which also ensures that all communications are encrypted and inaccessible to hackers.
If you take a quick look at the malware landscape, you might notice that attacks are declining YOY in 2021 because malware decreased by 4% from the previous year.
If you look closer, you’ll see that there’s more going on: in August 2021, 537 million malware attacks broke the previous year’s record.
The scenario thus warns us that the IT teams never should let their guard down and that they should instead keep up their preventative measures and awareness campaigns to avoid falling victim to nefarious threat actors.
Malware is malicious software that has been installed on a device or network. Phishing emails are a method that hackers can use to spread malware.
Hackers can use malware to infect users’ systems, which can then be used to track users’ data and keystroke-capture passwords.
With this method, keystrokes can be tracked to decipher passwords and obtain sensitive data such as login credentials, passwords, email addresses, and more.
To detect and stop malware and other infections, endpoint security and the implementation of a strong security solution are essential.
For the foreseeable future, passwords will be used, simply because they are universally applicable and easy to use.
But everyone has a responsibility to keep their passwords secure, not just the IT team.
Therefore, increasing employee awareness, running ongoing security programmes to stay on top of the threat landscape, and using tools like SSL VPN that can counteract attacks like MITM and HTTPS spoofing are the key components of prevention.
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