SplashData, a password management company from the US, has revealed its list of the top 25 worst passwords of 2011.
The list is made up of the most commonly-used passwords, which, of course, make them an easy target for hackers. What’s more, given that a significant number of people use the same password for multiple sites, there is a lot of potential here for disaster.
The list was compiled from stolen passwords posted online by hackers, the company said.
"Password" is the most commonly-used password, so is considered by SplashData to be the worst around, followed by "123456" and, along similar lines, "12345678".
Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData, said passwords like this are an open invitation for hackers. "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."
Other popular passwords include ones taken from strings of letters or numbers that are next to each other on a keyboard, such as "qwerty" and the numerical passwords listed above. There are a few common names and words in there as well, including "michael", "ashley", "football", "monkey" and baseball".
A lot of people also take their password inspiration from the hugely successful sci-fi TV series The X-Files, with "trustno1" appearing at number nine on the list. That is the password alien-obsessed FBI agent Fox Mulder uses for his computer on the show.
To help people improve the strength of their passwords, SplashData has released some hints and tips:
1. Vary different types of characters in your passwords; include numbers, letters and special characters when possible.
2. Choose passwords of eight characters or more. Separate short words with spaces or underscores.
3. Don’t use the same password and username combination for multiple websites. Use an online password manager to keep track of your different accounts.
The full list of the worst passwords of 2011 is: