Strong passwords are essential to protecting your business’s data from unauthorized access. Sensitive and otherwise important data is typically stored in password-protected databases. If you use weak passwords, these databases may become comprised.

Even with strong passwords, though, your business’s data could be vulnerable. Hackers can often breach databases with password sniffing. Regardless of how many characters or contains, hackers may identify the password through this common cyber attack. What is password sniffing exactly?

Overview of Password Sniffing

Password sniffing is a cyber attack that involves eavesdropping on the connection between a victim and a remote database that he or she is trying to access. As the name suggests, it’s designed to capture the victim’s password. During a password sniffing attack, a hacker will monitor the victim’s connection while essentially capturing his or her password. When the victim enters a password to access the database, the hacker will see it.

How Password Sniffing Works

Password sniffing is a type of man-in-the-middle (MITM) cyber attack. Like all MITM cyber attacks, it occurs when a hacker monitors the connection between your computer and a remote database. The hacker is the “man in the middle” between your computer and the remote database you are trying to access.

If your accessing a local database, you typically won’t need to worry about password sniffing. Rather, password sniffing targets remote databases — specifically the connection to a remote database. Remote databases are those offered by offsite servers and hosting services. You’ll have to connect to the remote database to retrieve or otherwise your stored data. Password sniffing is a type of cyber attack in which a hacker will breach this connection while subsequently capturing your password.

How to Prevent Password Sniffing

You can prevent password sniffing by using the right connection protocol. There are two primary protocols used for remote database, as well as website, connections: HTTP and HTTPS. In the past, remote databases exclusively used HTTP. Recently, though, HTTPS has emerged as a new and more secure alternative.

With an HTTPS connection, you’ll be virtually immune to password sniffing attacks. HTTPS is essentially the same protocol as HTTP but with encryption technology. It will encrypt your data so that no one other than the receiving party, such as the database server, will be able to read it. Even if a hacker breaches your connection, your password will remain safe. The hacker won’t be able to read your password if it’s encrypted.