What Is Password Hacking?

by Andrea Stein

A password can be a secret word, phrase or string of characters used to gain access to secured data. An individual with no knowledge of a password may still determine it through password hacking.

Definition

Password hacking, sometimes referred to as password cracking, is a method of recovering passwords from data transmitted by or stored on a computer.

Purpose

Password hacking can help a legitimate user retrieve a forgotten password. System administrators may use password hacking as a preventive tactic, to check for easily hacked passwords in order to modify them for increased security. Unauthorized users hack passwords to gain access to a secure system.

Methods

Guessing and brute force are two methods used to hack passwords. Individuals with knowledge of the password owner’s personal information may guess at the password and choose possibilities based on that owner’s date of birth, pet, relative or other information. The brute force method involves attempting to input every possible password combination to retrieve a password. This is most effective if the hacker knows the password hash function, or algorithm, or mathematical computation, used to encrypt, or code, password data.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera password errata image by UBE from Fotolia.com