"Password" and "123456" top software firm SplashData's list of the 25 most commonly used passwords used on the Internet this year.
Other common passwords include simple numerical choices like "123456," common names like "ashley" and "michael," and patterns based on the layout of the keyboard like "qwerty" and "qazwsx."
There are also some minor mysteries, like the unusual popularity of "monkey" and "shadow." With an increasing number of sites requiring more complex passwords, some letter and number combinations like "abc123" and "trustno1" are being used more often.
The firm compiled its list from files, posted online by hackers, containing millions of stolen passwords. SplashData's CEO Morgan Slain says that if you find your password on the list then you should it change immediately. Failure to do so means your online accounts are extremely vulnerable to hackers.
"Hackers," Slain said, "can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords. Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft," Slain said. "What you don't want is a password that is easily guessable. If you have a password that is short or common or a word in the dictionary, it's like leaving your door open for identity thieves."
Even though thieves have more sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal today than ever before, they still tend to prefer easy targets, Slain said. "Just a little bit more sophistication in choosing passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online."
The firm has several suggestions for making passwords more secure including:
Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, "eat cake at 8!" or "car_park_city?"
Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.
SplashData's List of 25 Most Used Passwords
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