Password cracking is so common nowadays that it is now perhaps the biggest security threat facing critical information systems and database networks. It refers to the process of stealing passwords that is stored or transmitted by a computer system without any knowledge of the user. The main motive of cracking password is to penetrate into the network system which has been secured by a password. Stolen password can be misused and can cause huge losses. Some of the most used techniques for obtaining passwords are as follows:
Guessing: Hackers don't always require sophisticated tools in order to crack a password. In fact the most common way to find a password is by guessing. Most of the users keep passwords which can be easily guessed by humans or cracking programs such as their spouse name, date of birth, birthplace, pet's name, a dictionary word in another language and so on.
Default Passwords: Another common technique is default passwords. Many online applications have default passwords that are configured by the programmers during the initial stages of software development. Hence it is quite convenient for hackers to crack password by entering default password. That is why companies recruit professionals who practice ethical hacking. White hat hackers or ethical hackers help secure the network systems and prevent any hacking of the passwords and other confidential information.
Brute Force: Brute force is used, when all other methods to crack password fail. It is a comprehensive form of attack and is very time-consuming. Longer the password, the more time it takes to crack it. In fact it can even take whole week if the password is too complex. In this technique, an automatic tool is used which tries all possible combinations of available keys on the keyboard. The moment correct password is reached, it appears on the computer screen.
Phishing: Among all other techniques, phishing is the most effective and comparatively easy password cracking method. Usually this technique is applied to find out the password of email accounts and other sensitive personal information stored by users on matrimonial and social networking websites. In this method, a fake login screen is sent to the targeted victim by the hacker. The moment user types the username and password and presses on the login button, all this information reaches to the hacker without the knowledge of the user.
Keystroke logging: Also known as keylogging, this is another technique in which keys struck on a keyboard are tracked without the knowledge of the user. Keyloggers come in various shapes and sizes ranging from hardware keyloggers which can be fitted externally and internally. And software keyloggers are programs that run on a computer.
Considering by using all these techniques, malicious hackers can cause severe damage to your business, companies recruit information security experts and ethical hackers to deal with the situation. No wonder a growing number of people undergo information security training and ethical hacking training to become professionals in this field.
Once malicious hackers know your password, they can do anything they want on your network system. That is why keeping your password confidential and safe from the hands of hackers is one of the most important things in information security to protect your network system.