Popular Passwords Make it Easy to Hack You

By: Robert Siciliano  |  March 1, 2016

Your account passwords should be as unique as your fingerprint—to make them less hackable by crooks using password-guessing software that can run through millions of possible combinations in just minutes. And if you have an easy password, there may be a hit within 10 seconds.

Think this software can figure out your password of “password1” or “monkey”? These are among the most used passwords. Needless to say, so is “1password” and just “password.” And “login.” What are people thinking?

Every year, millions of passwords are stolen. These are made public by researchers, in order of popularity. Hackers see this list. If you don’t want to get hacked, then avoid using the following passwords (this list is very incomplete):

  • 123456 (avoid ANY numerical sequence)
  • qwerty (avoid ANY letter sequence)
  • 123456789 (long sequences are just as bad as shorter ones)
  • Football (hackers know that tons of passwords are a name of a popular sport)
  • abc123 (combining different keyboard sequences doesn’t toughen up the password)
  • 111111 (how lazy can you be?)
  • 1qaz2wsx (vertical sequences are vulnerable too)
  • master, princess, starwars (give me a break)
  • passw0rd (wow, so creative!)

Don’t even bother with names of animals, countries, cities, famous music bands or people names. Even combining these won’t help, such as EmilyParis. If any component of the password can be found in a dictionary, change it.

Using a unique, different and strong password for all of your accounts goes a very long way in protecting yourself from hackers—and that means a different password for every account/site, not just a strong and original one. A hacker’s software will take millions of years to crack a password like 8guEF$#gG2#&4H.

Now suppose you have 15 passwords like this (for 15 accounts). How do you remember them all, being that they’re a crazy jumble of all sorts of characters?

Use a Password Manager

  • Solves the problem of having to remember (and type in) many different whacky combinations of characters.
  • Creates complex, hard-to-crack passwords.
  • Stores all the passwords and allows you to use one master password.
  • Eliminates having to reset passwords.

But feel free to make some of your passwords up. So if your favorite movie is the original “Star Wars,” your different passwords might be:

  • iLVth1st*wrz!FB (FB being for Facebook)
  • iLVth1st*wrz!A2Z (A2Z being for Amazon)
  • iLVth1st*wrz!$$ ($$ being for your bank)
  • Passwords should be at least eight characters.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestCompany.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

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