Password Security

4 Ways Hackers Can Steal Your Password

Hollywood likes to portray hackers as intelligent nerds that sit in front of computers all day. They’re usually stationed in front of a dated computer observing lots of matrix-style code as it cascades throughout the screen. When they “hack” their targets, they make it a point to show furious typing and repeated “access denied” notifications.

While it may look natural in a movie, real hackers couldn’t be more different.

Hackers are criminals that use advanced software and special techniques to gain entry into systems for data exploitation. These data breaches and cyberattacks are a lot more common than people think – 50 percent of small and midsized organizations reported suffering at least one cyberattack in the last 12 months.

Global spending on cybersecurity products and services are predicted to exceed $1 trillion over the next five years, from 2017 to 2021. And yet, hackers are still attacking more businesses than ever. Without proper cybersecurity measures in place, you face a very real risk of losing your data to a criminal

Let’s look at four of the most common ways that hackers can steal your password.

1. Brute Force Attacks

This form of attack is nothing more than a random trial-and-error session. Specialized programs operated by the hacker work tirelessly to guess your password, conducting a high number of attempts per minute. The hacker will point the software to focus on words that they know matter to you. This can include your pet’s name, your birthday, names of your loved ones, etc.

You’re probably not considering the fact that hackers can and will specifically target you. A hacker needs only a few minutes to find your online profiles, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Using the information they find on these sites will allow them to guess more relevant passwords, giving them a better chance at accessing your data.

2. Spidering

Sometimes, the hackers will skip the personal information hunt completely. They know that many people prefer to keep their work passwords related to their jobs. Therefore, they study up on corporate terminology and relevant facts about a certain company. Spidering is typically reserved for bigger companies, as they usually have more information online and are more likely to have standardized passwords.

Spidering is especially effective for gaining access to WiFi passwords. Most office routers are protected by simplistic passwords related to the business itself. Without much effort, hackers can break into the WiFi network and steal sensitive data.

3. Keyloggers

Keyloggers are a form of malware. They’re spread through infected attachments and are difficult to spot without the aid of a comprehensive antivirus software. They burrow deep into your computer’s file system and wait for you to type things. As you type on your keyboard, the keylogger (living up to its name) will log every keystroke and send it to a receiving hacker.

Upon receiving this information, the hacker will have everything they need and more. Keyloggers are especially dangerous because they completely expose all of your actions and not just your passwords. You may type sensitive information meant for only a select number of people … only to have it end up in the logs of a hacker who can use it for extortion and ransom.

4. Shoulder Surfing

It’s not as fun as it sounds. Shoulder surfing is probably the simplest way for a hacker to gain information, but it’s still surprisingly effective. As the name implies, a hacker will simply look over your shoulder as you enter in passwords and other sensitive information. Shoulder surfing is more common with ATMs, credit card machines, and any other device that requires the input of a PIN.  

Part of practicing proper password security is not leaving your password in plain sight. Part of shoulder surfing is also when hackers simply search around your computer for any mention of passwords, which many users foolishly leave on sticky notes on their monitor or under their keyboards.

Bolster Your Password Security

We’ve listed four of the most common ways for hackers to swipe your password, but there are many more. The best way for you to avoid having your password stolen is a combination of effective network security devices and software and end-user training.

Having your employees create passwords that are complex and difficult to crack will deter hackers from even trying to break into your systems. If they do try to break in, having strong passwords in place will buy you the valuable time you need to catch them and lock them out of your infrastructure.

At Diverge IT, we’re no strangers to keeping hackers away from businesses. If you’d like to learn more about how your organization can avoid these cyber criminals through helpful security solutions, reach out to us today.