4 common password theft attacks and how to protect yourself

Hacking has become commonplace in the modern world. Hackers make a living from stealing information from unsuspecting people. Most people think they are safe, while in reality, they are not. Their passwords to social media accounts or bank accounts are easy to hack into because they have weak passwords.

There are several ways that hackers steal passwords:

Social engineering attacks

Social engineering attacks come in a range of techniques hackers use to obtain data. Some of them include:

  • Phishing: Texts or emails are used to trick users into thinking they are legit. Clicking on the email or text ink injects malware and directs you to a fake site.
  • Spear phishing: This is the same as phishing, except that it contains cleverly crafted and emails tailored specifically for you, with information the hacker has already gathered on you.
  • Baiting: Hacker leaves USBs or any other device infected with malware in public places or workplaces, hoping someone will pick it up and use it.
  • Quid Pro Quo: The hacker does an impersonation and interacts with you and tries to get information.

Brute Force

Brute force attack uses a program that generates passwords you are likely to use, even throwing in random special characters. The attackers try with the most commonly applied passwords and if that does not work, they keep trying to guess. These programs try different variations such as lower and uppercase. If you have a weak password, these programs will eventually crack it.

Dictionary attack

The dictionary attack relies on peoples’ tendency to use short passwords and commonly used words. The hackers get a list of commonly used words and try them, often inserting numbers before the words, after, or in between. Companies tend to have every username based on the employees’ name, so they are much easier for hackers to guess.

Key Logger attacks

If a hacker manages to sneak software into your device that tracks your keystrokes, the hacker can gather all your information. They are able to tell your exact username and password for each visited site. This type of attack relies on the hacker gaining access to your device first.

How to protect yourself

Once you know how hackers operate, you must be very vigilant and protect your data. There are a few ways you can protect your information from these unscrupulous individuals:

Multi-factor authentication

Having strong passwords is not enough, considering hackers are using sophisticated techniques to crack them. Companies especially should use tools such as Multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication. MFA requires one to input extra information during login such as authentication by fingerprint. The extra bit of information makes it harder for a hacker to impersonate an employee.

Use a password manager

A password manager generates and stores long, unique and random passwords so you do not have to remember them. You use a single password for authentication to the password manager which automatically updates the account log in field.

Generally speaking, passwords ought to be long and randomly created, otherwise, they will be easy to guess. Most individuals use their own secret methods to create unique passwords by using a combination of characters and while this may be useful in preventing a brute force attack, it may not be very useful in targeted attacks.

Installing a VPN

Installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the best ways to protect yourself from hackers. A VPN creates a secure connection over an insecure network such as public Wi-Fi. A VPN works by enhancing security and privacy, granting access to censored content and access to content from different countries.

Confirm Links

Confirm links by checking if the first letters of the link start with https. The ‘s’ in https is a confirmation the site is secure. You can also copy-paste the link directly to your browser instead of clicking on the link.


Protecting yourself from hackers is crucial, especially when you know how they operate. Hackers keep upgrading their hacking techniques, but you should also try to be one step ahead by improving your protection. Avoid clicking on suspicious links to avoid social engineering tools and install a password manager which can generate unique and random passwords that a hacker cannot guess even by brute force.

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