6 Common Hacking Techniques You Need to Know About

The word "hacker" was coined in the 1960s to describe an expert who uses their skills to restructure mainframe systems in order to improve performance and facilitate multitasking.

Nowadays, the common use of this term refers to someone who can "hack" computer systems, which means they can obtain unauthorized access by leveraging vulnerabilities. They might create an algorithm to crack passwords, hack into networks, steal data, or cause disruptions.

As our lives are becoming increasingly digitized, hackers have plenty of opportunities to get unauthorized access to sensitive information like an email account or credit card details.

Most are looking for data or money. Usually, both because they can use the data to make money. Some just enjoy the challenge.

Whatever it is that motivates them, most hackers don't try to reinvent the wheel, and use techniques they know are effective.

Maybe you've been the target of a cyberattack in the past, or maybe you're just trying to understand the latest data breach you saw on the news. You've come to the right place. In this article, we will explain six common hacking techniques you need to know about.


One of the simplest and oldest hacking techniques is keylogging. A keylogger is a piece of software that can record what you type on your keyboard into a log file on your device. More advanced versions can also record the movements and clicks of your mouse. You can probably tell that by doing this, hackers gain access to passwords and other valuable information.

This is why banks provide you with a virtual keyboard on their online platforms. These virtual keyboards guard against keylogging by encrypting the input.

Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing is a technique that involves getting user credentials from one online service and then trying to use the same credentials to get access to other online accounts. For example, a hacker can get hold of your Facebook credentials and then use them to get into your PayPal account.

This technique works because, although they know it's bad practice, many people try to save money on paid services by sharing them with others - which means they're also sharing their login details - or they use the same email address and password on multiple accounts.

These credentials are also sold and traded on the black market. Even though this is a brute force attack and therefore has low chances of success, you shouldn't dismiss it. More advanced tools combined with the ever-increasing number of credentials available on the black market means that credential stuffing gives hackers access to a wealth of sensitive data they can further use in phishing attacks.

What's more, cyber stuffing is difficult to differentiate from standard login traffic. As a result, online service providers are unable to detect it.

Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

When a website receives more traffic than it was built to manage, the server becomes overloaded, making it extremely difficult to fulfill requests and deliver content to legitimate users. This isn't always the result of a cyberattack. For example, a newspaper's website can become overloaded when a major news story breaks, attracting a lot of visitors.

When a DoS attack is carried out using a vast number of computers at the same time, it's called a Distributed Denial of Service attack. To do this, hackers use zombie computers or botnets.

As hacking techniques and tools become more advanced, the scale of DDoS attacks increases.

Since the traffic is coming from many IP addresses all over the world, this type of attack is more challenging for network administrators to defend against. DDoS attackers are usually motivated by revenge, blackmail, or activism.

Watering Hole Attacks and Fake WAPs

If you like watching nature documentaries, you've probably seen footage of predators hiding and waiting near watering holes since it's an ideal hunting spot. The following two hacking techniques work on the same principle: herding a large number of unsuspecting victims in one place makes for easy prey.

A watering hole attack involves monitoring which websites are most frequently visited by a company or organization and compromising one or several of them with malware. After that, it's only a matter of time before the malware spreads to someone from the targeted group who will, in turn, spread it to the others. Hackers looking for specific data may focus only on specific IP addresses since this will also make the attack more difficult to detect.

Following the same principle, hackers can fake a wireless access point (WAP). This is a very easy technique since all you need is a wireless network and simple software. They'll give the fake WAP a legitimate sounding name like Starbucks WiFi and link it to the official WAP. Once you connect, they can track and intercept your data streams, infect your devices with malware and hijack them for a variety of purposes.


Phishing is one of the most widely known and commonly used hacking techniques. Although most people have heard about it, it's still very effective due to its heavy reliance on social engineering. By now, most people know that if they receive some random email, they shouldn't click on any links or open attachments. And hackers know that people know, so they use social engineering to give them a compelling reason to do it.

They'll send an email that looks like it came from someone the target trusts, such as their employer or a company they do business with. During tax season, for example, they can take advantage of people's anxiety about their tax returns by sending emails that seem to be from the IRS. The emails are made to appear legitimate and have a sense of urgency, perhaps informing the target that fraudulent activity has been discovered on their account and providing them with instructions on what to do to resolve the issue.

The email will contain a link the target has to click or an attachment they need to open. If they do it, they'll install malware on their devices. The link may even direct them to a very legitimate-looking website that instructs them to log in. Once they do this, they've essentially handed over their credentials to the hackers

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