The majority of people have at least one online account.
It may be a bank account, insurance, or a variety of social media logins.
Whenever you have an account, you’ll need a username and password.
The aim is to keep your data safe from cybercriminals.
The problem is it’s getting easier and easier to discover how to crack a password.
With the right tools, anyone can find out your password and access your accounts.
You need to understand how passwords are cracked and what you can do to prevent this from happening.
What Is Password Cracking?
In basic terms password cracking means working out what your password is.
This allows access to otherwise secure accounts and files.
At the basic end of the scale cracking passwords can be as simple as using a default password.
Estimates suggest that 10% of people use simple passwords, such as ‘password’.
That makes it very easy to guess them.
At the other end of the scale, there are algorithms that are designed to generate the right password based on multiple factors.
All these tools are easily available online, allowing anyone to try cracking passwords.
Why You May Need To Crack A Password
Most people make up passwords and never consider the need to crack them.
But, there are several reasons why you may need to work out what password a loved one is using:
Protecting a Child
The most obvious reason is when your child has put a password on an account, stopping you from accessing it.
This will immediately be concerning. Fortunately, this type of password is usually easy to guess, but a password cracker will make it even easier.
Checking on A Loved One
Another reason you may need a password cracker is when you’re suspicious about a loved one’s behavior.
If you think they may be cheating on you then logging into their social media accounts is a great way to verify whether they are or not.
We’ve all been there, you go to login and you can’t remember your password. Worse, you’ve never set up the authentication to reset the password. Or, you no longer have access to the stated email address.
The result is you can’t get into your own account without hacking the password.
Naturally, the most common reason to crack a password is to access personal information and use it for personal gain, often financial.
Understanding Password Strength
The strength of a password is best described as how well it can resist an attack. Weak passwords can be easily cracked, sometimes without even needing a password cracker.
In contrast, strong passwords will take much longer to hack. In some cases, it is impossible for the average password cracking software.
There are three factors that determine the strength of a password:
1. Number of Characters
In simple terms, the longer the password the stronger it will be. This is because the longer it is the more potential variants there are and the harder it is to guess.
2. Character Variety
A long password isn’t enough. A strong password has lowercase and higher case letters, numbers, and at least one special character.
The more relevant it is to your everyday life the easier it is to guess.
Weaker passwords can be easily cracked by a password cracker. Stronger ones can’t. For example, ‘Password’ and ‘Password1’ will be easily worked out by a password cracker.
But, ‘#Password1$’ is unlikely to be cracked because there are too many possible variants.
How to Crack A Password: Choosing the Right Approach
If you need to crack a password or want to protect yourself from attacks, you need to know the best approaches. There are several options:
1. The Dictionary Attack
This is effectively a list of words, starting with the ones most likely to be associated with an individual or company. It can include known passwords.
A dictionary attack can also include every known word in the dictionary. In effect, the software tries each word until it gets in.
In many ways this approach is the same as you manually typing in every word you think could be their password. The app will just make the process much faster.
2. Brute Force
A dictionary attack is a type of brute force attack. However, this approach takes it up a notch.
Instead of going through a list of words it uses algorithms to try variants of words for an attack. Specifically it adds or substitutes numbers and special characters into dictionary words.
This approach takes time but is often very effective.
3. Table Attack
The table attack is often referred to as the rainbow method. A hacker will create a password table of md5 hashes. This will be based on the most commonly used passwords.
The table is then compared to any password hash you discover. If it matches you’ll be able to identify the password.
4. Data Assimilation
Data assimilation, also referred to as spidering, is when a bot or program crawls the social media accounts of an individual or company.
This can help anyone identify personal information, such as date and place of birth, full name and family details.
The information gleaned can be used in a dictionary or brute force attack.
This may seem a little simplistic but you’ll be surprised at how often people don’t change the factory passwords. In short, you could access someone’s wi-fi administrative system with the default password ‘admin’.
The simpler the password the more effective guessing can be.
6. Keystroke Loggers
These can be useful if you can get an app on the target device. Parents can use apps like uMobix and mSpy to monitor a child’s phone and help keep them safe online.
These apps include keystroke loggers which allow you to identify everything they are typing, including usernames and passwords.
Of course, you need access to a device to install these apps, which limits how effective they are at cracking passwords.
However, cybercriminals can include keystroke loggers in malware that you inadvertently slick on. Proceed with caution when opening any link.
If the above options aren’t working you’ll find there are several dedicated password cracking tools on the market.
8. John The Ripper
This app uses a wordlist to locate passwords. You can access the program for free but you’ll need to purchase the most relevant password list.
The program is operated through the command prompt, you’ll need to be comfortable using this.
It can find passwords of almost any description and works with Linux, Windows, and macOS. It can even work with encrypted private keys.
In short, this program should be all you need to locate any password.
9. Cain & Abel
This program is designed solely for use with Windows. It can help you recover a lost password by rapidly analyzing the network, and even help you crack an encrypted password.
It is also capable of brute force attacks and can record VOIP conversations, which can allow you to locate a password. The app is capable of finding cache passwords and revealing the contents of the password box, even when the reveal isn’t set.
It’s quick and easy to download and very effective.
Ophcrack adopts the table attack method. It can be used with any operating system and often starts with a brute force attack.
The program includes free tables when cracking Windows systems and it even provides graphs to help you analyze success rates in real time.
This is also a free product, allowing you to crack any system without having to spend a fortune.
Using a Password Cracking App
If you decide that you need to crack a password then select one of the above apps and visit their website. Once there, you can register for an account and download the app.
You’ll need to download the dictionary attack wordlist separately but it can be accessed through the site.
Then, do the following:
- Open the app, you should be taken straight to the main dashboard
- There will be several options across the top of the dashboard. For this example choose the cracker tab
- Now find the plus symbol to add items and select it
- You’ll be shown a box with the local user accounts listed
- Select the account you wish to crack and add them to your list
- You can then click the dictionary list and upload your dictionary attack file, just follow the instructions on the screen
- Once done, simply hit the start command and let the password cracker go to work
It can take a few seconds or significantly longer to crack a password, it depends on how strong the password is.
If a password is displayed then you can use this to log into the selected account. If it fails to crack the password you’ll need to try a different approach, such as brute force. The app is capable of doing this.
How To Make Password Cracking Difficult
Once you realize how easy it is to crack a password, especially a weak one, you’ll want to know what you can do to better protect yourself.
1. Consider Strength
There is a good reason why passwords are recognized as strong or weak. The stronger the password the harder it is to hack.
That means, making sure it has upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters.
If you don’t already have strong passwords, change all of them, it will help protect you.
2. Change Regularly
Of course, given enough time any password can be cracked. The safest way to avoid this happening is to change your password regularly.
This also means you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple accounts. After all, if one account is hacked many other accounts are instantly at risk.
3. Make It An Unpredictable Phrase
‘Password’ and ‘123456’ are still surprisingly popular, despite the fact that they can be cracked in seconds.
To stay safe you don’t just need to change your password, you need to make it unpredictable.
That means avoiding the most common passwords and never using personal information, such as your date of birth or the name of your child.
The less of a connection to you the harder it will be for anyone to hack your password.
4. Use Encryption
If you are storing passwords in any type of password manager or log, it must be encrypted. If it isn’t a hacker simply needs to access this file and will have all your passwords.
5. Check The Logs
Don’t forget to regularly check all login logs. These tell you when the last login was and where. It can be helpful as any unrecognized logins suggest a password has been compromised.
Ask for ways to crack a password and most people will assume you are up to no good. But, there are plenty of valid reasons why you may need to crack a password.
All you are doing is using a program to help you work out what a password is, allowing you to get back into your own system or check on a loved one. It can even be used to test the strength of your password.
Remember, the best way to prevent password crackers from getting your passwords is to change them regularly and keep them strong.
Even the best password crackers will struggle to beat a strong password that’s changed regularly.