Secure Passwords Are Often a Passing Thought
No. A lot of us don’t do that.
Why? It’s a pain in the @$#. Who has the time and patience to keep track of unique login info for ten…twenty…thirty sites? And what’s the point? With hackers using sophisticated techniques, does it really make a difference?
According to Kevin Doel, spokesperson for SplashData (developer of the popular SplashID password management software), although hackers have more and more tools at their disposal, they still look for easy targets.
In particular, hackers seek people who:
- Stick with default or common passwords (admin, password, 12345, abc123)
- Use the same passwords over and over again on different sites
- Use short passwords of less than 7 or 8 characters
- Don’t change passwords often
- Write down passwords or put them in a spreadsheet or other unprotected document
The Bad and the Ugly in Passwords
Every year, SplashData compiles its annual list of “Worst Passwords” representing the most common passwords used on the Internet and posted by hackers. If you use any of these passwords, you’re among the most likely to be victims in future breaches.
On SplashData’s most recent list, “password” (uh…no comment!) reclaimed it’s #1 ranking. But “Jesus” has made His debut on the list – giving hackers a reason to sing “Hallelujah!” And the hacker’s savior is joined by “ninja”, “mustang,” and “password1.”
The top three passwords on this year’s list – “password,” “123456,” and “12345678” – remain unchanged from the previous list.
Top 25 Worst Passwords:
“SplashData compiled this list from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers,” explains Doel. “They advise consumers or businesses using any of the passwords on the list to change them immediately.”
By posting an annual list of frequently used passwords, SplashData aims to demonstrate that many people continue to put themselves – and even their customers in some cases – at risk by using weak, easily guessable passwords. The company hopes to motivate people to adopt stronger passwords. More complex passwords really can protect individuals, small business owners – and their identities – from criminals.
While the tools for hacking into accounts get more sophisticated, thieves continue to prefer easy targets. That’s why even a just a little more effort in selecting better passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online. “These days, your most valuable asset is digital information,” says Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData. “Just think of the implications if someone got access to your usernames, passwords, email, and online accounts.”
And that happens all too often because hackers are skilled at discovering or guessing information that lets them log in to people’s accounts and services on the web.
How can you make your passwords more secure?
SplashData recommends that you do the following to help protect your passwords from hackers:
- Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. To create longer, more secure passwords that will be easy to remember, consider using short words with spaces or other characters separating them. Some examples: “bake pie at 9!” or “car_drive_city?”
- Don’t use the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Whenever you sign up for a new website, use a password you’re not using for any other website. Particularly risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services.
So how on earth can you remember so many different passwords? Don’t even try! Instead, consider using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and that can log you into websites automatically.
Given what’s at stake – your identity, client information, your bank accounts… – it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to strengthen passwords and protect yourself from hackers.
You’re turn! How do you manage your passwords? Please share about what’s been working for you to keep your passwords organized and secure.
Image courtesy of foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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