According to a 2010 article in The New York Times, these are the top ten most common passwords.
Sometimes having “the most popular” of something isn’t a good thing. If you’re using something this obvious, you should change your password immediately.
Follow these simple steps to create a password that is hard to hack.
- When possible, use at least 12 characters. Never use less than 8.
- Use a variety of characters including letters, numbers, punctuation, and upper and lower case. The greater the variety, the stronger your password will be.
- Avoid using real words from any language.
- Avoid using real words spelled backwards, abbreviations or common misspellings.
- Avoid using repeated characters or rows of adjacent keyboard characters.
- Never use personal information such as your birthday, driver’s license number, family member or pet’s name.
- Never use your username as your password.
- Test your password with an online password checker to determine its strength.
Having trouble coming up with a good password on your own? Google “free online password generator” for help creating a secure password.
If you’re on a Mac running a recent version of OS X, your system comes with a built in password assistant. This tool can generate passwords that are easy to remember but hard to crack. To access this tool, go to System Preferences > Accounts and click on your account. Click on Change Password, then click on the key icon to see a password suggestion meeting various criteria. Click on the down arrow next to the suggested password to see more suggestions.
There are many things to consider when dealing with online security. One that is often overlooked is passwords.
We use passwords to access email, retrieve voice mail, get cash from an ATM. To make them easier to remember, we often choose passwords that mean something to us, using personal information and common words. Unfortunately, these passwords are easy to guess, and if your passwords are easy to guess, your computer files, personal information and online accounts are at risk.
A couple of simple tools hackers use are the Dictionary Attack and Brute Force Attack. A dictionary attack tries to discover your password by going through a list of known words. This is why you should never use a real word as a password. A Brute Force Attack systematically checks all possible character combinations, so the longer the password, the longer it will take to discover.
If the hacker knows who you are, it’s even easier for them. They’ll find words particular to you. Let’s say you live in “Chatham,” have a son “Michael,” and your dog’s name is “Bone.” A hacker might take these terms and create wordlists from the results. Thus, “ekiMBoneNY” may seem like a fine 10-character password, but it will be cracked in minutes by a hacker who knows you.
To keep your identity safe, it is crucial to have a long, strong password. But even a strong password can be breached if you share it. Your password should be your personal secret. Keep it.