Why we need to be putting more effort into our passwords

Despite plenty of constant publicity around the importance of keeping your banking details safe, it seems that we’re just not getting the message – at least when it comes to setting a strong password.

SplashData, a leading provider of password management applications, has just released its annual list of the 25 most common passwords found on the internet. The list is compiled from the more than 3.3 million leaked passwords over the past twelve months. “Common”, by the way, equals “not a good idea” and there are many usual suspects among the word/letter combinations.

“Passwords based on simple patterns on your keyboard remain popular despite how weak they are,” said Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData. “Since passwords are ubiquitous, people tend to emphasize convenience with short, easy to remember passwords that they use repeatedly. The problem is that convenience and security tend not to play well together, and that’s especially true when it comes to passwords.”

So what is top of the easily-hackable pops this year? SplashData advise that the top 10 most common passwords are:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 123456789
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football

Other passwords in the top 25 include “batman”, “monkey” “696969” and “access”. You can read the full list here.

Thinking up strong passwords can be difficult though, so are you better off having one awesome password consistent across everything, or different passwords across your various needs?

“You are definitely better off using different passwords for different sites,” said Morgan Slain. “If a site you are using is hacked and they don’t have good encryption in place, even a strong password can be exposed and then hackers will try that same password on other websites. The best solution for most people is a secure password manager such as SplashID that stores your passwords, logs you into sites automatically, reminds you of weak or outdated passwords, and can generate strong random passwords for you.”

There are plenty of great government sources of online safety information – try NetSafe and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to get started.

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