Passwords are a kind of credentials that helps you gain access to your accounts and service. Most of us password protect our digital belongings so that no one can access them, except for us. But what if malware attacks your computer system? Can malware steal your password?
This question might have made a bad impression on your mind because most of us know malware is a kind of malicious software that is injected into the computer system either through emails, fake download links, or software in order to gain access to your computer, and steal your sensitive data.
So, is it positive? Can malware really steal your password? Well, well, don’t worry, because in this article I will provide you with the appropriate answer to this specific question, along with some solutions, that will help you to keep your passwords protected.
Can Malware Steal Your Password?
YES! Malware is designed to initiate data theft and corruption; thus, it is 100% possible that malware can steal your password data, either through phishing or linking malicious software to legitimate ones.
So, it is better to keep an eye on your system, so that you can identify the potential malware attacks that may try to steal your data.
What are the Types of Malware that Can Steal Your Password?
Malware is a type of malicious software that can steal your data by injecting itself into the victim’s computer, by using email phishing techniques or download links.
There are many types of malware attacks and methods used by attackers that can steal your password in no time, and therefore to help you understand those attacks and methods, I will be listing down them below so that you can easily filter them and take appropriate measures to eliminate them.
Types of malware attacks and methods used by the attacker to steal your password:
- Trojan horse:
It is a type of malware attack carried out by the attacker in order to steal your data and passwords. It is injected into the victim’s system or network by faking it as legitimate software or a link with the help of email, website, or fake ad.
As the name suggests “Keylogger” is a type of malware attack specifically designed to steal your password. It fairly operates on a simple level by using keylogging software which logs your password as soon as you log in to your computer. It allows hackers to access the passwords no matter how complex they are.
It is another type of malicious software used to spy on your computer. It is injected through third-party web browser toolbars or add-ins. Once injected it, spies, on your every activity without your permission and can access your passwords too.
- Rainbow table:
Encrypting your passwords is the common way to prevent access via malware or other hacking strategies. And therefore, the most common way to encrypt your password is by hashing, and it is a one-way road.
So, that’s where the Rainbow table plays its role in encrypting hashed passwords by running some possible hashing combinations. It is a very expansive tool, that helps the attacker to revert the password encryption, but demands more sophistication.
The third-party attack is carried out by the hackers to gain access to your password using a third-party vendor, namely your Mobile Service Provider or Internet Service Provider.
By using this method an attacker captures the database of the third-party vendors, so it becomes very easy for him to enter into the customer’s system.
Additionally, it is hard for password-protecting software to sense an attack, as it initially occurs outside of your system. Thus, not only leading to data loss but also loss of customer confidence and loyalty.
- Brute force:
A brute force password attack is a type of attack carried out by the attackers by guessing the immense numbers of possible password combinations, to crack it down.
It not only ends here; hackers generally use software that can generate “n” number of password possibilities in just a short period of time. Thus, making it a hell lotta easier for hackers to breach your password data.
- Buying passwords on the dark web:
So, this one is the most common practice method to steal your password. When a major data breach occurs, as Facebook did a few years ago, the information is bought and sold on the dark web.
- Social engineering techniques:
Using these techniques hackers trick the victim to reveal their passwords. It is done by interacting with the victim and playing mind games so that he could collect potential points of entry with weak security protocols needed to proceed with an attack.
The password can be gained by the attackers using IT infrastructure search techniques.
How to Know When You are Affected by Malware that can Steal Your Password?
So, after analyzing the possible malware attacks and methods, that can be used by the attackers to steal your password, now we should proceed to the symptoms that can help you to figure out if you are affected by the malware or not.
Following are the symptoms of a malware infection:
- Slow computer:
This is the most common symptom when a computer gets affected by malware. A malware terribly slows down the computer speed and bandwidth.
- Rapid battery drain:
This is yet another symptom if your system is infected with malware. When malware is injected into your computer system, it eats up a lot of battery. Therefore, if you notice an unwanted battery drain do check out for any malicious software.
- Crashing or freezing of the system:
Unwanted system crashes or freezing can also be a symptom of malware attacks.
If you are receiving spam messages, or anyone is receiving messages from your side that you don’t remember sending, then it is possibly a malware attack.
- Less storage space:
Same as the battery, if you notice that your storage space is being eaten up without you filling it up, then it can be a malware attack.
- Unwanted pop-ups and programs:
Finally, if you see any unwanted pop-ups or programs on your browser or desktop respectively, it is a red alert as malware generally bombards the affected computers with such kinds of stuff.
What Should I do to Keep my Passwords Secure?
So, if you are affected by any malware attack or just want to take your side of precautionary measures to keep your passwords secure, then you might want to follow these simple to do methods:
- Get an antivirus or an antimalware software:
Yes, this is the first piece of advice I will give you. Get yourself an antivirus or antimalware software, so that you can keep your PC protected.
Nowadays, most antivirus software is pre-loaded with anti-malware software too.
- Perform system updates regularly:
This is a no-brainer, and therefore one should always try to perform system updates regularly because system updates come with more enhanced security patch levels, that can help protect you from various cyber-attacks.
- Avoid clicking on pop-ups or unknown links:
You heard it right, stay away from those fishy pop-up notifications or unknown links because they might contain malware software that can destroy and steal your password.
- Perform regular employee security training:
Mostly, 70% of the business owners said that the data breach was a part of their own employee error. Therefore, it is essential to perform regular employee security training to ensure total password security.
- Use passphrases instead of regular passwords:
This is the most common method to protect your password from any cyber-attack.
Using a passphrase lessens the chances of password theft when compared to the regular password. So, I urge you to use a passphrase to ensure the security of your password.
- Use a new and unique password for every account:
According to the sources, around 51% of people use the same password for both work and personal use.
This has led to password theft for that percentage of people.
Even 57% of the people who are affected by phishing scams in the past haven’t changed their passwords yet.
Therefore, it is very essential to use a new and unique password for every account.
- Stop using common passwords:
People generally tend to use common passwords like “1234”, or “password”. Even some people use their first name, or the name of the place they visit regularly as their password. This has made hackers’ jobs even much easier.
Therefore, most cyber security experts advise people not to use common passwords.
- Make a new password every 3 to 6 months:
Cyber security experts recommend this method so that your passwords are less prone to vulnerability. In most cases, your passwords are already sold on the dark web, so it is essential to change the password every 3 to 6 months, as it can nullify the chances of password theft.
- Use trusted password managers:
A password manager is a true friend to every computer user, as they can help encrypt your password and store it in a place.
Also, some of the password managers create strong passwords automatically and load them for you. So now, you don’t have to worry about creating a new one every time.
- Use two-factor authentication:
Most of the accounts are now equipped with two-factor authentication, so make sure you use it. Having two-factor authentication enabled ensures that you are the owner of the account.
Thus, when two-factor authentication is enabled, it sends out a verification code to your registered device, so make sure you register another device for the same
For example, if you are logging into Google from your laptop, make sure that your two-factor authentication code is sent to your mobile phone.
- Install a firewall on your system:
A firewall is basically a network security system used to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
Therefore, install a firewall on your system that can help you block any kind of untrusted traffic.
Password theft is the most common type of cyber security attack that is performed by attackers to gain your personal information and data. It is as easy as eating a piece of cake for the attacker to steal your password if you do not take precautionary measures for the same
According to Embroker.com “Cyber security attacks have been up by 600% during the Covid-19 pandemic, including data theft.” Therefore, it is very essential to figure out the type of Malware attack you are affected by and follow the precautionary methods to save yourself from password theft.
Thus, to conclude, this was my answer to the most asked question “Can malware steal your password?” Hopefully, this discussion has helped you gain more clarity about malware attacks that can steal your passwords as well as cause other data breaches.