The single most popular password is “password.”
The 18th most popular is “passw0rd.”
Notice the zero? So do hackers. Splashdata has compiled a list of the most used passwords from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted by hackers online.
Why are stolen passwords online? Cyber Monday Shoppers, take note: Credentials are compromised in a two-step process. The first is through some bit of malware installed on your computer that will log each keystroke as you type it and transmit it to the hacker’s far off server. Those passwords, along with usernames, are sold in groups of thousands to criminals who use them to break into your account. It could be your email, your work network, PayPal, or even your bank.
At companies, a rigid password policy is the responsibility of the network admin, but if you discover that you can use “password,” or something just as obvious, you’d be wrong if you think you’re cheating the system. Password cracking is a highly lucrative enterprise; once your password is compromised, your only line of defense is that it’s just one of so many in the hands of criminals. It’s a grain of sand on a beach.
How to Remember a Complex Password
The reason we use a simple password is obvious: It’s easy to remember. In the example of “password,” the reminder is often to the left of the entry box. But a complex password doesn’t have to be difficult to remember. You’ll also want a combination of capital letters, words not found in the dictionary, and numbers. The best way to do this is come up with a sentence that includes all of this. Sentences are short narratives that people can remember much easier than random letters. For example:
“I love my 15 year-old cat, Marpie.”
Include the quotes and the spaces. This password far exceeds the recommended minimum standards for password complexity, yet you’re likely to remember it even when you close this story.
Here are the top 25 passwords used in 2011. Do you see yours?