How Do Hackers Get Passwords? | Phoenixite (2023)

Hacking is a serious issue, and it can strike at any time. It’s important to know how hackers get passwords to protect yourself from being victimized by them.

Hackers get passwords in one of four ways: the first is by coaxing them out of users, the second is by guessing intelligently, the third is by looking up the password in a dictionary of known passwords, and the fourth is by using an automated tool to discover the password on their behalf.

Typically, the first step to hacking into someone else’s account is obtaining their password through brute force or social engineering. To avoid this, always use strong passwords that are difficult for others to guess, and never share your password with anyone else. With these simple precautions, you’ll be able to safeguard your private information from cyber-criminals who want nothing more than access to your data!

Also, make sure not to use the same username/password combination on more than one site because if one of those sites gets hacked, then all of your accounts will be compromised in one fell swoop.

How do hackers get passwords?

Attackers may obtain passwords in different ways:

  • Trick users into revealing them.
  • Crack encrypted passwords using brute force or dictionary attacks.
  • Steal stored hashed versions of the password, which are still vulnerable to brute force.

The last method is the most common one today – many websites store user credentials unprotected so that an attacker with access to the database can easily retrieve them.

There are also effortless methods to obtain passwords, such as looking over the shoulder. At the same time, the user types in his password on a shared computer (hotel computers are favorite spots for attackers).

An attacker may use various tricks to make an attack more successful. For example, he may combine dictionary-based and brute-force attacks by using a short dictionary of common words first (such as the famous “RockYou” dictionary) and then proceed with a more complex analysis if that doesn’t work. Some tools can also automatically simulate keyboard input to perform large numbers of guesses even if the target user is not currently logged into the system.

Hackers have access to many tools that automate most steps of password guessing. These tools come in different forms: some use general approaches which can be used against many types of password-protected resources (such as HTTP authentication, FTP accounts, POP3/IMAP mailboxes; some are prepared for a specific purpose, such as cracking Microsoft Office documents or locating weak cryptographic keys in IPsec VPNs.

Some tools combine several approaches at once – for example, they may check the most popular websites first, and if they fail to obtain access, try cracking local hashes. Such multi-purpose tools have become popular with attackers in the past few years because of their help. It is possible to get initial access to hundreds of systems within minutes by spending just a few minutes on each target.

There are also scanners explicitly designed for finding unprotected hashed passwords stored on web servers. They are easy to use and swift; however, they don’t work in all cases – for example, if the webmaster protects stored passwords with some additional mechanism (such as a cryptographic salt), these scanners won’t find anything.

How do hackers get your information?

Hackers will use any methods they can. They have a goal that they are trying to achieve, and it takes them several steps/takes time to get there. Here are some examples of different techniques used by hackers:


This involves threatening you over an email or on social media with sensitive information; otherwise, they will leak it. Or, if your business is doing well and you have many clients, this might be an option for them too, since they can threaten your reputation (either publicly or privately). Some other examples include spam emails containing viruses to obtain money from you that way OR a website posting fake negative reviews about the business OR malware installed on your computer to give them control over it to get credit card information or social security numbers from you.

Social Engineering

This is where they create a scenario where they look like someone with authority and convince you that they’re legit (law enforcement, bank auditors, tech support team members, etc.). They might even be able to get your credentials this way!

Session Hijacking

Hackers can access saved sessions of another user’s online account by using tools such as keyloggers. This can lead them to access private emails/passwords/financial documents. These types of attacks are most common when dealing with public Wi-Fi networks since people tend not to protect the accounts they’re accessing (favorite websites, emails, perhaps even online shopping).

Malicious Object Code Injection is when rogue malware or trojans are inserted into the system to collect your information and send it back to the hacker. You don’t know how long this has been going on, so you might want to run some antivirus software just in case! They may also use your computer as a bot for sending out spam or other malicious content.


This involves taking over another user’s identity by using their internet protocol address. There’s no need for them to intercept and copy all of the traffic that comes from your IP address since they can hijack it!

Targeted Phishing

This is where a hacker will try to trick you into giving them your personal information by pretending that they’re an official company. They might pose as a bank/credit card organization to get your info or perhaps Google, who asks you for some credentials to fix something (they’ll pretend it’s an update).

The top 3 most common passwords are 123456, 123456789, and qwertyuiop!-Password Cracking – Using brute force attacks, dictionary, and rainbow table attacks to uncover the password used when accessing online accounts. The best prevention method for all of these is to constantly have updated antivirus installed on your system and be sure not to share any sensitive information online (yes, even password managers can be breached).

How fast can hackers get your password?

One of the biggest fears people have when using the Internet is that their passwords will be hacked and stolen. While there seem to be lots of cases where this has happened, we still worry about being the only person who hasn’t been hacked, even though our passwords aren’t nearly as strong as those used by others.

When you create a login on a website or email account, you usually first define what characters can be in your password: lower case letters (a-z), upper case letters (A-Z), and numerals 0-9. You also choose whether the password should contain special characters like! Or?

The amount of time it would take a hacker to crack your password depends on how strong you set it. A typical eight-character ASCII lower-case only password can be cracked in about 12 hours on standard hardware. That same website doubles the number of characters making up the password and divides the time by four, so that same computer will need to spend just over three days cracking it. If you use upper case letters and numerals, add another 28 hours. And if you throw in some special characters like! ? or &, double security is 24 days at best and six months at worst!

However, what kind of computer are we talking about here? To get a reasonable estimate for how long your password would take to crack, you need to know how powerful your attacker’s computer is. A few years back, researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara did a study called “How long does it take to crack passwords?” and found that average users have about two days’ worth of password cracking power based on 2006 hardware. Still, high-performance computers could deliver over seven days of password cracking. So, if you are worried about someone stealing your password from Facebook or Gmail, use a good mix of characters (including upper case letters) and make sure the length is between 8-14 characters.

The cheap boxes are no suitable for cracking passwords because they don’t have much RAM, typically 64 gigabytes or less. A cracking program needs to keep generating candidate passwords and test them against the target password all at once. The more memory available, the faster this can be done. It is clear from reading their study that you need at least 128 gigabytes of ram if you want to get respectable performance and crack an eight-character ASCII lower case password in 12 hours (or about one day on average hardware).

Other factors can make things go faster. First of all, if you have many passwords to crack, it is best to use parallel processing so that your password cracking program can run on lots of threads or machines at once. Second, some programs have special features for quickly searching through dictionaries and rainbow tables to help them crack more complex passwords in less time than they would otherwise take.


The most important thing you can do to protect your account is secure it with a strong password that isn’t shared. You should take other steps, like changing passwords on major accounts every few months, using two-factor authentication, and not opening phishing emails or clicking links in them. You may also want to use programs like LastPass for managing all of the different logins from various sites and devices.

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Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated: 03/04/2023

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