WiFi networks are everywhere and are used by millions of people every day. They are the preferred method of implementing home networks due to their flexibility and convenience. You can usually find public WiFi access in a coffee shop or retail establishment just about anywhere. Sometimes you don’t even need to use a password to gain access to these networks. It’s great if you just want to do a quick web search or check the weather, but you wouldn’t want to be using it while transferring sensitive information.
One of the most fundamental principles of computer use is that passwords are instrumental components of providing security. That public WiFi with no password is an open invitation for hackers. It’s like a large, neon sign directing them to a group of unsuspecting victims available for possible credential and data theft. A good rule to follow in all your online activities is to never access sensitive data on a wireless network that is not password protected.
Is It Possible to Hack a WiFi Password?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. Even if you were already aware of the importance of password protecting your WiFi network, the security of your communication might still be at risk. The type of security that you have implemented on your wireless network and the strength of your password are the main factors that may make it vulnerable to attack. Some of the same tools used to protect and analyze your network, such as KisMAC, can be employed in attempts to gain unauthorized access.
A successful incursion into your network can lead to important and sensitive data being lost or stolen. Every device connected to the network can potentially be infected by malware following a network security breach. Rest assured, there are nefarious individuals who spend their day figuring out how to hack wifi passwords and break into innocent wireless networks for decidedly malicious reasons. You need to make sure they fail in their attempts to subvert your security.
Why Would Someone Hack a WiFi Password?
Here are some of the reasons a person might want to hack a WiFi password. While most of them are of dubious integrity, in some cases there may be a valid purpose for hacking into a wireless network.
Valid reasons might include:
- Gaining unauthorized access to perform penetration testing.
- Attempting to gain access to a network in an emergency situation.
- Conducting investigations into clandestine and dangerous organizations.
The more common and unscrupulous reasons include:
- Stealing credentials to enable further unauthorized access.
- Taking control of computers or devices on the network.
- Destroying or stealing sensitive information such as bank records.
- Installing malware that can cause damage now or at a later date.
- Stealing your WiFi signal to provide themselves with free service.
As you can imagine, most people who want to know how to hack WiFi passwords are not doing it for idle reasons. This is where the value of network security comes into play.
How Strong is My Security?
The ability to adequately protect your wireless network is directly related to the type of security you implement. Here are the options you should have at your disposal. This security is enforced through your wireless router.
WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy
This original security protocol was used when WiFi was released in 1997. It is hard to configure and easy to crack using WiFi sniffers. It is better than nothing but is not recommended if you desire real security.
WPA – WiFi Protected Access
The next improvement in WiFi security employs a stronger algorithm that WEP that provides improved encryption capabilities, making it harder to crack than WEP security.
WPA2 – WiFi Protected Access II
Data integrity and encryption are based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) in this protocol. It offers a significant improvement over the security afforded by WEP or WPA.
WPA3 – WiFi Protected Access III
Beginning in late 2018 WPA3 is being rolled out, offering even greater levels of security for your wireless network. More complex encryption is possible and passphrases are handled in a more efficient manner. Public network connections will be able to take advantage of WPA3 encryption.
We strongly recommend that you use equipment that supports WPA2 at a minimum as it offers substantially more protection against hacker attacks trying to crack your password. Routers that do not support WPA2 should be avoided.
Another facet of security is the strength of your password. Do not use trivial or easy to guess passwords for your wireless network. Passwords of 12 characters or more are almost impossible to crack in any legitimate time frame by any current technology.
How to Hack WiFi Passwords
There are multiple methods that are used to hack WiFi passwords. Many make use of some type of software to access the network and conduct the attack. Equipment may also be used to trick a user into revealing information and credentials.
Common types of attacks aimed at hacking WiFi passwords are:
Packet sniffing – In this method, a hacker monitors a network in an attempt to access unencrypted data. If you are not encrypting your communication with a VPN or other means, you can be subject to this type of attack.
Password cracking – Various techniques are used to crack passwords. Two of the most popular are:
Brute force attacks – A cracking application is used to generate random sequences of characters in an attempt to guess the password. It can take a lot of time and processing power. The length of the password makes it harder for a brute force attack to succeed.
Wordlist attacks – A wordlist attack also tries to provide the correct password to gain entry into the network. Rather than generate random character sequences, this attack uses a dictionary file which contains potential passwords. A larger dictionary file provides a greater chance of success but can be thwarted with long and strong passwords.
Fake access points – In this type of attack, hackers put up phony access points to lure a user into connecting to their network. The user believes they are on a valid network and may reveal confidential data to the hacker.
Packet injection – Using this very common method, hackers spoof a computer’s credentials and can monitor and redirect its network traffic. They can search for unencrypted data and messages without the user’s knowledge.
How Can You Prevent Your WiFi Password From Being Hacked?
Hackers rely on finding wireless networks that do not present any major obstacles to unauthorized entry. You want to make their efforts as difficult as possible so they find another network to attack. Here’s what you can do to make it difficult or impossible for a hacker to wreak havoc on your network.
- Change your equipment’s default credentials – Default passwords for network equipment are easy to find on the web. You should immediately change the defaults when installing new equipment on your network. Failure to change them leaves a huge gap in your network security.
- Keep hardware and router firmware updated – Always install the most recent firmware available for your network equipment.
- Use strong encryption – Always use network equipment that supports the WPA2 security protocol. It’s the best protection until WPA3 becomes more widely adopted.
- Use a strong password – As mentioned previously, your network password should be at least 12 alphanumeric characters to minimize the chances that a brute force attack against it will be successful.
- Search for rogue access points – Using a network analyzer such as NetSpot or another WiFi surveying tool lets you find potential access points outside of your building that may need to be monitored.
Using these methods can help protect you against hackers determined to access your WiFi network. They are out there, and it’s up to you to keep them at bay. Don’t leave the doors to your wireless network wide open.