The Worst Passwords People Keep Using — and How to Create Better Ones

Why secure passwords are the keyAprilFeatured_Passwords to avoiding account hijackers
Passwords are some of those things that humans just don’t have time for. As a result, we tend to use passwords that are easy to remember. But that means that anyone can remember them, which increases your risk of being hacked.

However, creating a strong password decreases the chance that a hacker can easily figure it out and log in to your account. There’s a reason most websites call for case-sensitive passwords or ones with numbers and/or symbols. The problem is, most people are still using easy-to-guess passwords.

In an analysis done by SplashData, a security and applications service provider, the top 10 passwords of 2015 were:

123456
password
12345678
qwerty
12345
123456789
football
1234
1234567
baseball

As you can see, these passwords are extremely easy to guess, and that makes it easy for hackers to break in to your important accounts.

Besides avoiding common passwords, consider these tips to create better, stronger passwords to reduce your risk of being hacked:

Use special characters
In addition to changing up capital and lowercase letters in your password, experts recommend also using numbers and special characters like exclamation points or question marks. In fact, online security company Bit9 estimates that it takes a hacker only 3½ minutes to guess an eight-character, lowercase password, which is what most people tend to use.

Don’t reuse the same password
Steer clear of making your password the same for numerous online accounts.

“Reusing a password is like reusing the same key for every lock and having that key be something that you give out to everyone you meet,” Joe Siegrist, CEO of LastPass, says to Business Insider. “And it can also be copied instantly and used remotely.”

Make them long
This may seem obvious, but the longer the password the better.

“Create a phrase like ‘I hope the Giants will win the World Series in 2016!’ Then, take the initials of each word and all numbers and symbols to create your password,” Dennis O’Reilly said to CNET. “So, that phrase would result in this: ‘IhtGwwtWSi2016!’”

Avoid using personal information
Because it can be easier to remember, people tend to create passwords using personal information like their birthdays, anniversaries, relatives’ or kids’ names, favorite sports teams, cities of birth, dates of graduation, etc. However, hackers can easily find this type of information, which is typically what they will try first when attempting to breach accounts.

Don’t write them down
Since the likelihood of someone breaking into your home and finding your password notes isn’t likely, this tip mostly applies to on-the-job passwords.

“[Writing down passwords is] really not a great idea, particularly at work,” says Boston-based digital security expert Beth Jones. “Physical security is just as important as online security. Anyone walking by could see the sticky note next to your machine and then break in to your accounts (especially if you use the same password for everything),” she adds.

Avoid public computers
“Be careful when using a public kiosk computer like the ones at the airport. Never let browsers on computers you don’t own store passwords,” says Chris Burchett, founder and chief technology officer for Addison, Texas-based information security firm Credant. “In fact, it would be best not to log in to any website requiring a password from a computer you don’t own.”

Change passwords often
It’s important to update passwords every few months, which will increase security. “Treat your password like your toothbrush, according to U.S. Astronomer and Author Clifford Stoll. “Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.”

Since most people spend large amounts of time online, changing your password is becoming more and more important. Developing a system that works for you can help, so get started today.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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