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Do you have one of the world's worst passwords?


Check this list of most commonly used passwords, and maybe renew your passwords for greater security. The easiest passwords to remember are almost always the easiest for anyone to crack, which is why it's pretty stupid, for example, to use "password" as your password. 

Splash Data's latest list of the most common passwords was compiled from lists of leaked password databases. The fact that databases of passwords get leaked is alarming enough, usually pointing to some other kind of weakness in an online service's overall security, but it also highlights how important it is not only to have a strong password, but also to keep an eye on alerts coming from compromised companies or services, and regularly changing your most sensitive passwords. That way passwords that are are leaked without your knowledge — either because a company doesn't know it's been compromised or because it's not yet telling its userbase — won't affect you as much, if at all. 


We love simplicity

Reading through the list of most commonly used databases reveals that at the simple end of the scale, very little ever changes. The top two most common passwords remain as common as they were the year before. In case you were curious, as a species we still love simplicity, which can be the only explanation of why 123456 and Password remain the most common password for 2015. I'll put what I feel is a safe bet out there and say that they'll be the most common passwords of 2016 as well, but that doesn't make them secure. Strong passwords can be difficult because a good strong password can be as hard to remember as it is for malicious types to detect. I've long favoured using simple mnemonics — a small phrase with a few numbers sprinkled within that you pick a few key letters from — if you have to create the password itself. 


Password Management Services 

If you're creating a password on the same PC or Mac that you're regularly going to be using for whatever service you're password protecting, consider using a password management app such as Keepass, Dashlane, teamsID or 1Password to keep all your passwords in a secure vault behind a single (and preferably strong) password. Those apps will even calculate, store and paste your passwords into password fields depending on the application, making it easier to stay secure without having to resort to insecure passwords in the first place. 


Tips for creating a strong password 

A strong password: Is at least eight characters long. Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name. Does not contain a complete word. Is significantly different from previous passwords. Contains characters from each of the following four categories: 

1. Uppercase letters A, B, C 

2. Lowercase letters a, b, c 

3. Numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 

4. Symbols found on the keyboard (all keyboard characters not defined as letters or numerals) and spaces ` ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ - + = { } [ ] \ | : ; " ' < > , . ? / 

A password might meet all the criteria above and still be a weak password. For example, Hello2U! meets all the criteria for a strong password listed above, but is still weak because it contains a complete word. H3ll0 2 U! is a stronger alternative because it replaces some of the letters in the complete word with numbers and also includes spaces. 


A memorable password

Help yourself remember your strong password by following these tips: Create an acronym from an easy-to-remember piece of information. For example, pick a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as My son's birthday is 12 December, 2004. Using that phrase as your guide, you might use Msbi12/Dec,4 for your password. Substitute numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase. For example, My son's birthday is 12 December, 2004 could become Mi$un's Brthd8iz 12124 (it's OK to use spaces in your password). Relate your password to a favorite hobby or sport. For example, I love to play badminton could become ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n. If you feel you must write down your password in order to remember it, make sure you don't label it as your password, and keep it in a safe place.

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