Every day there are many people searching to find out how to hack a Gmail account. As I’m sure you know, this is Google’s free email solution, coupled with other free services like Google Docs and Google Drive. And as we all expect from a Google service, it is incredibly secure. In fact, to even setup an account, there are several verification steps designed to weed out bots, fake accounts, and hackers. Not only do you need to link another email account to Gmail, but you also have to use phone verification to identify yourself before your account is activated.
With so many security features, it may seem that Gmail is an impenetrable iron fortress that hackers can’t ever hope to break into. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a variety of methods that hackers can use to hack these accounts, and you need to be aware of them if you have any hope of avoiding becoming a victim.
It can’t be said enough: no one should abuse this knowledge and actually attempt to break into a Gmail account. Doing so is illegal and it could land you in a boatload of trouble, not to mention violating moral principles, such as the right to privacy. We are looking at this purely from an academic perspective; knowing how black hat hackers operate will increase your skills and knowledge as a white hat hacker.
Method 1: The Keylogger
A keylogger is probably one of the most effective and popular ways to hack information. Though some services are so strong that even the most talented hacker would have trouble finding vulnerabilities, more often than not, all of these security features can be undone with a keylogger.
A keylogger is a type of software (or hardware) that runs in the background of the target’s computer, recording every single keystroke they enter. Though many advanced hackers employ complex methods of installing keyloggers remotely, such as embedding the program in a P2P file download or other type of software, even novices can install these programs if they have access to the target’s computer. However, some keylogger programs have tools that help the attacker complete the installation remotely, such as Realtime-Spy.
And hardware keyloggers are even easier to install, because they typically look like a PS2 jack of USB flash drive that can easily be inserted into the back of a desktop computer – without the target being any wiser. Many of them are even undetectable by the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Method 2: Phishing
Phishing still remains to be an extremely effective way for hackers to steal login credentials, payment card information, and a multitude of other types of data. Essentially, the hacker tries to setup a website (with a bogus URL) that looks and behaves exactly like another website – which, in this scenario, is Gmail. All the attacker really needs to do is copy the web code from the login screen, add a small amount of PHP code, and then harvest usernames and passwords.
After the false phishing site has been setup, the hacker then sends links of the bogus site to all of their victims. A careless user won’t see that the URL is slightly different and will consequently send their username and password straight into the hands of the attacker. Then the phishing site typically redirects the user to the genuine site to avoid suspicion. Though there are a lot of phishing filters and web URL blacklists that attempt to stamp out phishing, there are always new phishing sites popping up, and there is nothing we can do to eliminate them completely.
Method 3: Social Engineering
Social engineering has remained another effective alternative for hackers to steal users’ login credentials. The idea is to impersonate another individual or to dupe the target into willingly forfeiting their login credentials, and there are several ways to do this.
The first way is to create a false account that has an address that looks like it belongs to a friend, acquaintance, or colleague of the victim. Then there are a variety of lies a hacker can tell, like they need your login information to recover their account, etc. In addition, hackers often mimic administrators or Google employees in an effort to garner more trust from their victims.
Some spam emails claim that Google was recently hacked and that they need your username and password to check if your account has been compromised. But Google employees will never ask you for your account information, so remember that you should never hand over your login credentials to a third party – even if they seem to be legitimate.
Method 4: Stealing Cookies
There are a number of ways to steal cookies from other users’ sessions and to inject the into your own web browser. Tools like Firecookie, Wireshark Cookie Injector, GreasMonkey for Firefox, and a myriad of other tools will allow you to sniff out a cookie on the local LAN and then use that cookie to hijack the user’s session.
The easiest place for a hacker to perform this attack is on public Wi-Fi networks like those found at cafes, but some hackers engage in war driving to find weak or exposed wireless networks. The bottom line is that once the cookie has been stolen, the attacker can then login to the account and read emails, send emails, and change account settings to block the original user.
Though an average user typically doesn’t stand a fighting chance against a skilled hacker, there are certainly a variety of measures that can be taken to minimize the chance of being hacked. First and foremost, make sure you never give your password out to another individual – even if they’re your friend. Secondly, always make sure that you log out of Gmail when you are finished perusing your email to avoid becoming the victim of session hijacking. And last but not least, everyone should be regularly scanning their computer with antivirus and antispyware software to help decrease the chance of becoming infected with a keylogger and other similar types of dubious programs that lead to someone hacking your Gmail account.