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Worst passwords of the year revealed

As security experts continue to urge SMBs to take the risk of hacking seriously, a password software provider has revealed the 25 most popular, and worst choice, passwords of 2011.

According to SplashData, the top two most used passwords of the year are ‘password’ and ‘123456’ – so if you’re guilty of these poorly chosen security measures whether on personal or business accounts, now is the time to change them.

Other common passwords include popular names like ‘ashley’ and ‘michael,’ and patterns based on the layout of the keyboard like ‘qwerty’ and ‘qazwsx.’

There are also some mysterious choices, like the unusual popularity of ‘monkey’ and ‘shadow.’ As more sites begin to require more complex passwords, letter and number combinations like ‘abc123’ and ‘trustno1’ are also being used more often.

In an effort to encourage adoption of stronger passwords, SplashData has released its 25 Worst Passwords of the Year list for 2011, which wascompiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers.

And the most common passwords on the web are:

  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • 1234567
  • letmein
  • trustno1
  • dragon
  • baseball
  • 111111
  • iloveyou
  • master
  • sunshine
  • ashley
  • bailey
  • passw0rd
  • shadow
  • 123123
  • 654321
  • superman
  • qazwsx
  • michael
  • football

According to SplashData CEO Morgan Slain, any business or consumer using any of the passwords on the list, should change them immediately.

Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords. Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft.”

Although thieves have more sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal than ever before, they still prefer easy targets. Slain suggests that just a little “more sophistication in choosing passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online.”

SplashData suggests making passwords more secure with these tips:

  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, ‘eat cake at 8!’ or ‘car_park_city?’
  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.
  • Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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