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8 Common Ways Hackers Steal Passwords (And How To Protect Yourself)

Gone are the days of the middle school-aged boys hacking accounts for fun. Now we have major hackers that are tapping into companies like Target and credit card companies to get people’s information.

Domestic and foreign hackers are equally as problematic since stealing your information knows no borders. Passwords are the single key that keeps you safe in the online world, but so often they are not well thought out or worse, used across every platform making it easy for hackers to target you and take your protected information. Having a strong password manager, like the password manager for Google Chrome, can help prevent these attacks from happening.

Below are eight common ways hackers steal passwords and how to protect yourself against them.

 

1. Phishing

This is still the most common way a hacker can steal your password. You get an email from what you believe is a reputable company and are asked to provide information regarding your account. Because this is a familiar company, you enter your credentials or sometimes even your bank account information and now the hacker has all he needs to get into your accounts.

Always double-check email addresses to make sure the person sending you the email is actually from the company and not a bogus email. This will help you decipher which emails are real and which bogus emails you should delete and not take action on.

 

2. Social Engineering

Still wildly popular, this involves calling an individual and telling them that their computer has a virus and needs to be updated immediately. Most of the time not only does the hacker ask for your credentials, but also asks for some form of payment. Now they are paid, have your credit card information and also your logins.

Don’t give anyone claiming to help you with any information regarding your computer. If you believe you have a problem with a virus, take your computer to a reputable company like Best Buy or Apple to have it looked at if you can’t do it yourself. Never give anyone information over the phone.

 

3. Malware

Malware is suspicious software that downloads to your computer. This software can search your system for passwords and login credentials, especially for sites related to banking.

Never trust a link in an email or download anything to your computer that you are not 100% sure where it came from or what it is. This is a very easy way to have information taken without much effort, and removing Malware from your computer can be a hassle and oftentimes involve a professional.

 

4. Unsecure Wi-Fi

Sure it is great when a company offers its customers free wi-fi. But using unsecured wi-fi to access your bank accounts or other password-protected accounts can be trouble. This is inviting the hackers to come and take your information.

Unsecured wi-fi, or wi-fi without a password, should definitely be used with caution. Everything you do while on the open wi-fi can potentially be watched by a hacker. If you rely on open wi-fi to get work done, try using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to secure your internet browsing.

 

5. Spending Time on Unsecured Sites

Spending time on unsecured sites can give hackers all of the information they need straight from your computer. These sites are often suspicious and are full of hackers. If your site doesn’t have the lock next to it on the toolbar, do not enter any personal information.

Also, make sure when entering credentials on important websites, such as your bank, that you always make sure it is marked with a green checkmark indicating it is the website you are intending to be on and it is secure. It’s the easiest way to keep yourself safe.

 

6. Using Your Phone Number on Social Media

This is the newer way to gain password information, but still just as dangerous. Most social media networks now want you to enter your phone number for an added layer of protection. Hackers can re-route those phone inquiries to reset a password to a number they created and then have access to your account and all of your personal information.

Stick to an email/password combo to log in to social media. Providing your phone number online is not safe for hackers or potential social media users with bad intentions. It is a good idea to steer clear of that regardless.

 

7. Brute Force

Brute Force is simply attempting to guess your password based on your likes. Surprisingly these trial and error attempts often work.

The best way to protect yourself against brute force attacks is to regularly change your password and make it something that is not easy to guess. Your dog’s name and your address are going to be pretty easy things for hackers to guess if you post about them all the time on social media. The stronger your password, the harder it is to hack into your system.

 

8. Third-Party Attacks

A third party attack is when hackers gain information from a third party. This is something we are hearing about more and more in the news when large companies like Target and credit card companies are having their security breached.

One way to prevent this from happening is by using a password manager to help ensure the hackers can’t get away with your master vault password.

 

Hackers are out there and they are trying every day to steal login credentials, bank account information, and even identity. The best thing you can do is to stay educated and take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe when you are online.

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