How passwords are cracked (Be careful out there)
“brute force” password cracking is probably not the most popular method by which passwords are broken. Social engineering, phishing, and other nefarious methods are actually much easier: All of these involve you willingly giving up your password to a malicious hacker through some form of misdirection and deceit. You may get a call from “your bank” with a problem on your account. Or you may get an email from “eBay” with a question about your listing… which takes you to a phony website.
The most secure password in the world won’t protect you against hacking attempts like these. If you actually tell someone your password, you’re out of luck.
The kind of password attacks I’m talking about when I write stories about password security and strength involve brute force attacks of various sorts. These attacks typically involve the theft of password records by various means. You read about them every day: Hackers compromise networks and abscond with user data. Or, more commonly, someone steals a laptop loaded with user records for some company or another. (User IDs are usually not encrypted and are linked directly to the hashed password.)