Here’s How Hackers Can Steal Your Passwords

Having a strong password is a cybersecurity essential. It acts as the last layer of defense that protects your information from malicious cybercriminals. But how do hackers really obtain your passwords? Behind the scenes, hackers have created numerous tricks to access your personal information.

Sticky note with passwords written down.

The most common ways hackers steal your passwords

Hackers typically have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to acquiring your passwords. Check out our list below to see some examples of what hackers use to gain access to your accounts.

1. Phishing

Phishing scams are when cybercriminals combine spam emails, social engineering, and malicious attachments to infiltrate your computer and steal your personal data. These emails will often masquerade as legitimate company emails, and will include an attachment to download or a hyperlink to a malicious website.

2. Stolen Login Credentials

Every so often a major data breach will surface, effectively exposing loads of login credentials onto the dark web. Cybercriminals will then use these login credentials to access a victim’s personal information. These credentials are typically accessed by purchasing them on a dark web marketplace, or by accessing illegal forums.

Curious to see if your accounts have been involved in a data breach? You can check out Have I Been Pwned to verify if your information has been exploited in any recent data breaches.

3. Keyloggers

Image of a virus on a computer.

Keyloggers are a nasty type of malware that can trace your keyboard input once given access to the computer. Once the keyboard input has been tracked, it then relays the information to cybercriminals who can then determine the necessary login credentials for any of your personal accounts.

If you want to want to stay on top of malware, we recommend using an antivirus program like McAfee Total Protection, giving you an extra layer of protection from malware.

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4. Password Attacks

Password attacks are when hackers will use malicious programs designed to cycle through brute force combinations and dictionaries until they unlock your password. Cybersecurity officials recommend having a complex password for a reason. If you have a simple password, these malicious programs will be able to break through in a matter of seconds.

Looking for a way to beef up your password? First, make sure you’re not using one of 2020’s worst passwords.

5. Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing happens when hackers use stolen credentials to access all and any of your online accounts. Hackers will essentially try the same usernames and passwords across multiple platforms in order to unlock as much data as possible.

Here’s how you can protect passwords and yourself from being hacked

  1. Choose a strong password – having a strong password is the best way to ensure you don’t get hacked. Longer, more complex passwords are often the way to go, but make sure you don’t pick something so complex that you can’t remember it.
  2. Change your password frequently – this should be done a minimum of twice a year. In the case that your credentials have been compromised in any way it’s always best to change your password.
  3. Use two-factor authentication – many applications present you with this option right when you sign up. This is highly recommended for online accounts.
  4. Use login notifications – this will inform you every time you (or someone else!) attempts to log in to one of your accounts.
  5. Use Chrome Sync – Chrome Sync can save your bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings securely to your Google Account and allow you to access them from Chrome on any device — including the StartMeStick!

Passwords act as the final layer of defense for your information. Make sure that yours is as secure as it can be!

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!


  1. Frederick -

    In the past my credit card was compromised, so I quickly notified the bank and asked for a new one. The new card was received in a few days…but it too was Already Compromised. Any ideas how that happened? I asked for the next card to be received at the bank. So far so good.

    • Jonathan -

      Hi Frederick,

      Thanks for reaching out to us!

      In this case, a number of factors could have compromised your account. If you have lingering malware on your computer, or if a hacker already has access to your account, they have have accessed your new card that way.

      In this case, I’d suggest running a FixMeStick scan to rid your computer of any lingering threats, and then changing your passwords to ensure that nobody can access your account!

      If you have any more questions or require further guidance, please let us know!

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